“The memoir of literary obsession”

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Over at New York, Sam Anderson has a review of Elizabeth Hawes’ Camus, a Romance in which he identifies the genre “memoir of literary obsession.”

I’d never thought of this as a genre, but it’s clearly an important one, most notably because all fans of reading at some point have to come to the crushing realization that their favorite authors are human. This is often very painful, and therefore interesting. 

“The great empire of Western thought,” Anderson says, “… had been founded not on metaphysics and griffins’ wings but on hairbrushes, socks, cutoff jean shorts, headbands, wastebaskets, and Daewoo sedans.”

Anderson continues, “I became fascinated by the gulf between literature’s abstract power and the trivia that always attends its creation. A great author’s toothbrush (or manuscript or cane or razor) is like a saint’s relic—a little rip in the space-text continuum, a wormhole through which the private abstract ecstasy of reading manages to stream in to the real world.”


Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at www.seth-fischer.com, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →