Book Review: The Keep by Jennifer Egan



My internal debate reached a fever pitch; finding an opening statement about Jennifer Egan's new novel, The Keep, is like fumbling through the pitch black of labyrinthine caves, to which, oddly enough, both cave and labyrinth provide a catalyst for Ms. Egan's tale of childhood trauma relived.

Though, on the surface, a gothic castle ghost story, populated by a creepy baroness, the spirits of tragically drowned twins, and the damaged renovation team of Howie and Danny, the major players in the previously noted trauma, it quickly dissolves to reveal its unique narrator: a maximum security inmate in a prison writing class.

The resounding metaphor, here, as the title purports, is the keep itself. Standing stoic in the background of interactions and in the foreground of thought, it is that place that we can all run to, to hide from; our past, present or future. The question is: are we locked in--at that very moment, when we feel the safest?

Ms. Egan has a way with layers, and at one point--and, this stuck with me--suggests that fiction is the voice of the dead, and writers are their medium.

There is no question that the book is a great read, for whatever your purposes, however, I would like to know what others think of the switch in narrator in Part three. This character's voice is powerful and her last line does what great sentences can do: wrap the essence of the book into a single strand of words, seven cultured pearls.

My next review: Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

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