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The Keep

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  10,096 Ratings  ·  1,485 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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Aug 08, 2012 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: distant-lands

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
Apr 02, 2007 Sean rated it did not like it
Shelves: rejectbin
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
Mar 13, 2008 Steven rated it liked it
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 it was ok
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
Oct 26, 2007 Patrick rated it it was ok
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
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 07, 2016 Mattia Ravasi rated it it was amazing
Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016:

Dope beyond words. An extraordinary Gothic novel that draws on its tradition to reflect upon the powers of the imagination, to stimulate the reader's, and to push the limits of first person narration TO THE MAX. Shares several similarities with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Oscar Wao is pretty much the best novel of all times.
Apr 05, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 30, 2017 Morgannah rated it really liked it
Part modern gothic novel, part suspense thriller, The Keep's reality steadily spins out of control as imagination intermingles with tunnels and family secrets.
Ms. Egan's brilliant book contains a construction so clever the reader barely notices there is a multi level mystery going on until the plot is in full swing.
The writing is so fluid that you have the sensation of knowing the characters and you feel like you are a part of their lives.
Burdened with his mistakes of long ago and seeking to esc
Sep 13, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2011 Kasia rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 18, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 31, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 01, 2007 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 05, 2008 Liz rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 21, 2014 Genevieve rated it really liked it
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
Jul 04, 2013 Laysee rated it liked it
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
Dec 29, 2015 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is real?

That was what I kept asking myself while reading this novel. Now, more than a week after going through the whole book, I still don't feel quite ready to answer the question. To be honest, I think that's the point.

We are told what seem to be, at first, two different stories, one real and one fiction, the fictional one being written by a character from the real one. Then, at some point, they intertwine as, after reading A Visit from the Goon Squad, one would expect. But, instead of ma
Jan 01, 2016 Steffi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Die unterschiedlichen Erzählstränge sind jeder für sich genommen ungemein spannend und das Ende ist nie vorhersehbar: Das erste Kapitel suggeriert eine jugendliche Verratsgeschichte, die die Erwachsenen einholt. Zum Ende dieses Kapitels wird zudem der Erzähler Ray eingeführt, der offenbar im Gefängnis sitzt und einen Schreibkurs absolviert. Zweites Kapitel – Erneuter Perpektivwechsel: Wir lernen Danny, aus deren Perspektive wir bislang in die Geschichte eingeführt wurden, aus Sicht der Anderen k ...more
Jan 21, 2011 Johari rated it it was ok
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
Jan 15, 2015 Elalma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordamericana
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
Aug 07, 2012 Alison rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 20, 2007 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
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.
Sep 21, 2009 Aimee rated it did not like it
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
Sep 17, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok
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
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
Mar 23, 2013 Aniko Carmean rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2015 Gilla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-american
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
I loved this! Gothic, meta, ghosts, weird, disturbing, what's not to like? Unfortunately, either I was too stupid or Egan didn't tie enough loose ends together to finish her meta-fiction, and literary thoughts. I gave it four stars because of the journey of the story and the delightful atmospherics (man, this book can CREEP you out!) but it ends either too soon, or chapters should have been added to end certain plots within plots within plots (too open-ended). However, WHAT a puzzle-box of a sta ...more
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It's not really about the plot. 1 62 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 about Jennifer Egan...

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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?” 6 likes
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