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The Keep

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  8,864 ratings  ·  1,345 reviews
Award-winning author Jennifer Egan brilliantly conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep-–the tower, the last stand-–is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive.

Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Knopf (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
Jan 17, 2014 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
Aug 16, 2008 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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
I picked up Jennifer Egan's The Keep because, well, Halloween, and for its premise: three different stories told by three different narrators that intertwine for an unusual twist on the gothic tale. The Keep opens with a seemingly traditional gothic tale. Danny arrives at the doorstep of a castle somewhere in central Europe after a maddeningly long and confusing journey. He's tired and disoriented and before him, in all its glory, is a mysterious castle, heavy with atmosphere and history, someth ...more
Per questo romanzo di Jennifer Egan prendo a prestito una parola utilizzata da uno dei personaggi del libro per indicare che le aspettative sono state soddisfatte pienamente: elevazione. Infatti ho trovato tutti gli ingredienti per un romanzo divertente, curioso e intrigante di "tradizione postmoderna" : non ci si deve perciò aspettare una trama mozzafiato da romanzo gotico, ma diversi piani di narrazione, con divagazioni, trovate divertenti che si intrecciano come in un gioco. Mi è piaciuto, pa ...more
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
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.
La lettura de La Fortezza è stata una lenta agonia. Fino a circa metà mi sono letteralmente forzata a leggerlo, un po' per sfida un po' nella speranza che prendesse il decollo dopo ore e ore di rullaggio. Dopo di che la narrazione da noiosa, prolissa, e inutilmente farcita di parolacce, ha cambiato (leggermente) registro al punto da convincermi ad arrivare sino ad un finale che avrebbe potuto riscattare l'intero romanzo. Sì, avrebbe potuto...
La narrazione e la scrittura sono affidate ad un dete
OK. Let me preface this by saying that I read this book immediately after finishing “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which is.. OMG... amazing and if you haven’t read it you must do so immediately!), so the fact is that ANY book that had the misfortune to be my next selection was going to suffer from comparison. I tried to keep that in mind when I was reading it. I really, really tried.

Oh, another caveat: I also don’t normally read … whatever
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
Kasia S.
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
Aniko Carmean
There are two things an author can do that almost guarantee I will not finish reading her book. The first is to break standard prose conventions, especially if the intent is to showcase how 'edgy' or 'experimental' the author is. The second is when an omniscient narrator's voice intrudes on the flow of the story. Jennifer Egan does both of these things in THE KEEP, but what is remarkable - and the reason that I said "almost guarantee" rather than "ensure" - is I kept reading THE KEEP. In fact, d ...more
One of the things I absolutely love about Jennifer Egan's writing is her habit of including these intimate, almost-magical character details (in this novel, Danny's "alto" and the "worm"; in Look at Me, Charlotte's "shadow selves") that really make her use of perspective powerful. Another thing is how unwieldy her novels are--there is no easy wrap-up but an ending that unbalances the whole story (which is way better, in my opinion).
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
Feb 20, 2008 Gwen rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Luisa Geisler
(com preguiça de fazer uma resenha direita e família tradicional brasileira, mas direi que: woa. bem bom. nunca tinha lido nada da Jennifer Egan e fui já com um desdém de "pffff esse hype". me juntei ao hype. sou uma ovelha. adeus.)
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
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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 about Jennifer Egan...
A Visit from the Goon Squad Look at Me The Invisible Circus Emerald City The Best American Short Stories 2014

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“That's what death is, Danny thought: wanting to talk to someone and not being able to.” 6 likes
“Howie's troubles were a favorite family topic, and behind the shaking heads and oh it's so sads you could hear the joy pushing right up through because doesn't every family like having one person who's fucked up so fantastically that everyone else feels like a model citizen next to him?” 4 likes
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