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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

the keep

I'm evidently one of the few unimpressed by Jennifer Egan's The Keep. The style has been compared to Chuck Pahlahniuk's, and perhaps that is a key; certainly not one of my favorite styles. A few gothic elements do not a real Gothic Novel make, she said disappointedly. Obviously, the novel did have an influence, she said wryly.

There are elements I like:
  • the incident that changes life for Howard and Danny, sending them in separate directions. The "loser" becomes a winner and the "winner" becomes a loser, trying to forget the role he played and punishing himself. This psychological twist is interesting and believable.
  • the Gothic elements that are (as it turns out) only partially developed. There are scenes, incidents, characters in this portion that aroused my interest, but were never fully fleshed.
  • the story within the story, as Ray writes the story of Danny and Howard is a good concept, I think. I t has an intriguing aspect as the reader debates the role Ray plays/played.

But overall, the novel wasn't satisfying and was often annoying. When quotations marks and tags are deleted and more than two voices are taking part, the narrative is slowed down. Egan has received some acclaim for breaking rules, I just don't feel that the rules she breaks (for example, the dialogue) are beneficial, stimulating, or thought provoking.

Close to the end, my interest mounted, but I still felt dissatisfied. And then there was another ending...


  1. Sorry it disappointed. The premise sounded promising, but maybe I'll pass it by after reading your review.

  2. I had looked at this one and at Thirteenth Tale and TT seemed to be more of the type of book that I wanted to read. Not to say that I won't try The Keep sometime in the future but it isn't a title I am coveting at this point.

  3. booklogged - My review is my personal response, and I am definitely in the minority. There were things I found interesting, but it just wasn't what I wanted.

    Carl V. - Yes, the Thirteenth Tale seems to be more what I was looking for. And by all means, try The Keep, remember you liked The House on the Borderland better than I did.

  4. The Keep is waiting for me at the library right now. It sounded interesting for its gothic aspects. I plan on working on The Thirteenth Tale this weekend, but I may have to take a peek at the Egan. Not sure I will get it read though.

  5. Danielle, I'm eager to know how you and Carl view The Keep. Most of the critics have raved about it, but I need to pay attention to which critics say what instead of just skimming through a bunch of reviews and deciding I want to read something. In fact, if I had time, I keep a critic scoreboard and see how often my opinions match up with theirs. And which critics seem to enjoy the kinds of books I do.

    Not that it hurts to read things that I eventually decide I don't particularly care for. Sometimes it is fun to examine why the book just doesn't resonate.

    Everyone reads a different book, don't you think, even if the title is the same. Sometimes a review, especially from someone with whom I usually agree, makes me re-examine a work.