The Keep
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The Keep

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3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  7,483 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews
Two cousins, devastated by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a castle in Eastern Europe. The fortress has a bloody history that stretches back hundreds of years. Amid extreme paranoia and eerie silence, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a third p...more
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Published August 1st 2006 by BBC Audiobooks (first published 2006)
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karen

god, i am so glad jennifer egan won the pulitzer. when i heard she won, i said "her??"



because i had read invisible circus and thought it was really average and not to my liking at all. but then i read goon squad, for science, which made me read this one, and i loved them both. and now i say loudly "HER!"

this one has similarities to goon squad (and thankfully none to invisible circus). it is a weaving narrative swirling metafictionally between a criminal writing a story for his prison writing cl...more
Sean
i thought this was the most criminally over-hyped and misrepresented book of last year. clearly, Jennifer Egan has many well-placed friends (and fellow back scratchers) at the NY Times Book Section to fawningly and falsely fan the flames for this book. "The Keep" is two half-fleshed out novellas awkwardly crammed together. with a tacked-on third short story/chapter at the end.

i cannot believe that any accomplished and previously published author would look at this fragmentary and sloppy work an...more
Steven
My review of this book will sound like it deserves more stars than I've given it, because overall, I only found one flaw in this fine homage to ghost stories and their tellers. Unfortunately, it's a major one, though I'm sure some will read right past it without so much as a blip. Egan sets up two fascinating threads, that of two cousins coming together in adulthood to play out the effects of a long-held secret between them, and the prisoner crafting their tale while taking a writing class from...more
Jessica
Jan 17, 2014 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretty much anyone but me, they all seem to love her
Recommended to Jessica by: mike reynolds, i think?
I've had this conviction for a long time that Jennifer Egan should be one of my favorite writers. She's a SHE who writes popular-but-smart contemporary fiction with ideas and experimental stuff in it. My hero!

Ex-punks from the Bay Area! A woman teaching writing in prison...?!!! It's like Jennifer Egan produces books especially for ME! Oh yes, my swooning Egan fangirl plan makes so much sense on paper... The only problem with it is that for some reason I can't stand her books. First I tried A Vis...more
Patrick
I picked this one up a month or so ago based on the NY Times Book Review writeup from forever ago, because was that review so positive that it glowed like a deep-sea anglerfish's esca? Oh, yes. But is that an apt metaphor? Also yes, because reading the book felt like being digested by an anglerfish (if you know what that feels like), plus guess what, and this is the most important take-away:

A book review in the NY Times Book Review is different from a book review in the NY Times; did everyone e...more
Nancy Oakes
My first thought: if you don't want a challenging read, don't pick up this book. It is not for mainstream reading; you seriously have to consider what it is that you have in front of you. And when you're finished, you'll STILL be thinking about it, and have a lot of questions.

I originally picked up this book because of the cover blurb saying something about gothic horror, supernatural, ghosts, tragedy, etc etc...but it turns out to be something incredibly different. The author has provided us wi...more
John
This book is told (written) by an inmate in prison taking a writing class. The narrator (the inmate) isn't a great writer; he doesn't always know the "correct" word for things. (on the first page he refers to the top of castle having those "rectangle things that kids always put on the top of castles.") This "untalented" narrator allows for some of the best, coolest description of things and feelings I've ever read.

A very fast read. The end is disappointing, but only b/c so much of the book is gr...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Loved this - a story, within a story, within a story. One of my favourite things about Egan is how she weaves our conflicted relationship to technology into her stories without the references sounding anachronistic or hokey. This is a minor but important note in this novel about our alienation from our own imaginations (the grandiose theme), or, if you prefer, a guy whose vacation to visit his childhood buddy goes horribly wrong.
Caroline
A very peculiar book, about two cousins who re-unite at an old castle in Germany after not having seen each other since childhood. Along with this, it's the story of an inmate in prison for shooting someone in the head. At first, the transitions seemed a little jarring, as well as the narration, but I found it pretty easy to get the swing of.

A lot of readers seemed put off by the vague narration style, and how at times you don't really know what happened or if things were just a dream. I'm a fan...more
Johari
I was puzzled while I was reading this book, and am still puzzled after finishing it. It's a story within a story: we watching a suspenseful tale unfold, set in a European castle, through the eyes of a narrator who happens to be a prisoner writing the story for a writing class. Jennifer Egan does some interesting "technical" things--moving between the first person and third person, between the present and the past, creating some moments of true suspense. (One scene that took place in an enclosed...more
Liz
Aug 16, 2008 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Liz by: Amazon
Shelves: general-fiction
This book was such a surprise -- a story within a story within a story. Danny did a horrible thing to his cousin Howie when they were kids. Twenty years later, Howie's a mega millionaire who's bought a castle in Europe and he sends for the troubled Goth Danny. Is this reality, or just a story Ray has created for his prison writing class? Is THAT reality, or just a fantasy a recovering meth addict has created?

Lots of tunnels, and words, and the color orange, and dungeons and secrets.
Becky
A tightly written novel with intersecting narratives that both stimulated my imagination, entertained and transported me. I had this book in my head for quite a long time after reading it and plan on teaching it to my 201 class next semester. Sara also taught this book with much success, so I recommend it for that purpose, if you happen to teach Lit. I can see why the kids would eat this up, dive through it, think about it, engage with it, whathaveyou. It's a one sitting novel.
Oscar
La trama que se nos narra en ‘La torre del homenaje’, de la estadounidense Jennifer Egan, en realidad son dos. Por un lado, tenemos la historia de Danny, un joven treintañero que viaje desde Nueva York hasta un país centroeuropeo huyendo de la vida que lleva hasta ahora. Resulta que Danny ha sido invitado por su adinerado primo Howard a su castillo medieval, que está en plena restauración, con la idea de transformarlo en un hotel. La única particularidad, es que los aparatos electrónicos están p...more
Jennifer Marie
Here's another one of my "write the review as I go" commentaries. ** SPOILERS **

1- I would NEVER have chosen this book on my own, which means someone recommended it to me, but I can't for the life of me remember who.

2- I don't like the protagonist. I didn't from the start, and 1/4 into the book he's only just starting to have some redeeming qualities, but even so I just can't warm up to him.

3- The swearing. Too much, I just don't like swearing in books, and I know many would say this is middle,...more
Judy
Even though I read this way back in 2007, I am posting my review now. I don't think Goodreads even existed in 2007. In any case I was not a member. But tonight I am posting my review of A Visit From the Good Squad, which is related to my feelings about The Keep. So here you go:

Wow! Wow! Wow! So good. I've been fascinated about this book since I first heard of it, but even so all the reviews did not begin to explain what it is really about. Yes, there is a crumbling castle with a keep in eastern...more
Laysee
The Keep by Jennifer Egan is an intriguing gothic ghost story with a difference. It is metafiction with layering of narratives. In my view, it is principally about the power of the imagination and what constitutes reality.

Set in a medieval castle, the story is told mainly by Ray, the protagonist-narrator, who cranked up the suspense as the reader traversed the castle grounds. The decrepit castle was in the process of being spruced into a hotel and carried within its mysterious halls a putrid po...more
Rob
After reading (and loving) Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad almost two years ago, I purposefully didn't pick up anything else she wrote for a while. I didn't want to run the risk that the author of one of my all-time favorite books was a flash in the pan, a one-trick pony. Turns out I needn't have worried. The Keep is a rich, perplexing, wonderful book, and the less you know about it going in, the better.

At first it appears to be about childhood resentments bubbling to the surface in...more
Kasia
This book was such an enigma to me and only half way thought was when I started appreciating the delectable balance of realms changing from sanity to the reality that the author wanted me to appreciate. The Keep is unlike any other book I've read in the past year, it has more than one narrator, three to be exact, and all different people who become the strands of the rope binding the story. This tale reads like a surreal fairy tale switching between Danny who has lost his home, job and stability...more
Claire Monahan
The second I finished this book, the only way I could think of how to describe it is "Bah, humbug." Let down. Disappointed. Why do I keep believing these "Thriller! What a page turner!" critic reviews? Lies, all lies.

If I could give this 2.5 stars, I would. I'm going to be generous and bump it up to 3, since at least I wasn't extremely bored during my read. But I knew a few pages in when the word "frigging" was used to describe something that this was probably not the most literary book I'd be...more
Bibliomantic
I originally gave this book four stars, but aspects of the narrative kept returning to me since then, as if imploring me to give the novel its due. So after thinking it over, I must admit that five stars are more appropriate, and that perhaps I merely reacted with the four to the abrupt tone change in the final pages. Nevertheless, this novel is a pleasant postmodern achievement in that it does not merely play games with your mind (although it does that in a healthy portion) but also offers old...more
Gwen
Feb 20, 2008 Gwen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who needs mediocrity to get them through the night
Recommended to Gwen by: *grumble* Barnes and Noble employee
This book was recommended to my by a bookstore employee. Why not? The back description seemed pretty cool, and the first few pages were intriguing.

Gaaaaah. It was predictable - even the twist at the end was obvious. The writing was just short of inspired. It was very good, but I couldn't bring myself to sympathize with any of the characters. To me, that's essential. I need to connect with someone, anyone, in the book to enjoy it. There has to be something, some sort of spark - and I didn't feel...more
Alison
I can't stop thinking about this book. Jennifer Egan is masterful at taking something (or sometimes a character) that's beautiful and forbidding and mysterious and slowly rendering it recognizably, imperfectly human. This book is particularly accomplished at just that. And the way she does it in two (actually three) parallel narratives reveals the shape of the over-arching metaphor in a particularly affecting way. I don't want to give anything away here, because the process of unfolding the myst...more
Jared Rasic
This was one of the finest novels I've read in a long time. A man with no connections takes a job renovating a castle in an unknown European town with his cousin who he shared a horrific childhood experience. At the same time, an unknown man in prison is telling the story of the castle to his creative writing class. The way these stories connect and the meaning behind them made for one of the most satisfying and visceral reading experiences of my life. I cannot possibly recommend this book more....more
Brian
I really enjoyed Note from the Goon Squad, so I thought this was a no brained purchase. However, I found the plot to be rather dull, and the story to be confusing and unbelieable. A man named Danny goes to visit his cousin Howie who is renovating an old castle, but Danny was mean to Howie when he was a kid. does Howie (Howard) have other motives? The story is told as a story within a story, with a prison inmate supposedly writing it. This translated to a very confusing narrative, and a book that...more
Suzanne
3.333 Initially I had a little trouble getting traction with this one, but after 50 or 60 pages, it got a grip and turned into a very pleasant entertainment. Not Goon Squad caliber by any means, but entertaining nonetheless.
Aimee
I picked up my copy of this book in the convenience store next to our resort on Greek's party island, Ios. It jumped out at me, begging to be read, and since I'd heard great reviews of it on Amazon and it was high up on my TBR pile, I thought 'I'm on hols, the other novels can wait - why not?'. So I ignored the frustration welling in my heart at the sight of an 18 euro price tag for such a slimline paperback, and bought it.




I didn't get to read it on the plane (too tired) and have only just finis...more
Winston
The novel attempts a narrative that goes beyond intertwining the multiple perspectives of its protaganists to explore conceptions of shared mind, the subconscious mind, and the 'super'-conscious mind that is capable of observing itself in the third person.

The plot is presented by the writer Ray, interspersed by memoirs of his unfolding relationship with his writing teacher Holly. Ray traverses the bounds of reality (i.e., the factual account of 'real' occurrences) and subjective states of mind,...more
Dinah
Despite being engaged by The Keep from cover to cover, I can't bring myself to give the book a higher star rating. Not that "engaging" is the shibboleth of literary merit, but I think it's a better marker than a lot of other post-modern bullshit, or meaningless adjectives like "ambitious" or "inventive" or "important."

I guess my problem with The Keep is the fundamental cop-out of the structure, when the author is clearly capable of writing some very good dialogue at very least. The book is osten...more
William Herschel
Foremost, this book was a complete surprise to me. I didn't know much about it, I just got it on impulse because the setting was a castle (and I really dig castles right now.)

Maybe this is because of the way books are described on book flaps nowadays. You know, every book is described as a page turner and a love story. The Keep fits the bill for the former, but it isn't the latter (despite claims.) The inside flap states, rather falsely, that this book is also a ghost story. Not literally, anywa...more
Jennifer
After devouring A Visit from the Goon Squad and Look at Me, I was incredibly disappointed by The Keep. Those two novels were wildly different and yet, while neither was perfect, they were equally deserving of the prizes and notoriety they earned Egan.
The Keep, however, feels like a book by an entirely different writer — one much younger and inexperienced. Once it’s revealed that the story is being told by a convict taking a prison writing class, I was finally able to pinpoint the main reason thi...more
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It's not really about the plot. 1 46 Nov 11, 2012 05:57AM  
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Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and St John's College, Cambridge.

She is the author of three novels, The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the bestselling The Keep, and a short story collection, Emerald City. She has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and...more
More about Jennifer Egan...
A Visit from the Goon Squad Look at Me The Invisible Circus Emerald City Black Box

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“That's what death is, Danny thought: wanting to talk to someone and not being able to.” 4 likes
“The seconds pass. I know what’s going on because it’s the same thing that always happens: give me something nice, something I love or want or need, and I’ll find a way to grind it into dust.” 3 likes
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