The Keep, Jennifer Egan, Alfred A Knopf, 2006, 240 pp
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 Europe and yes there is a main character who is obsessed with staying connected by phone and email. But this story is really about crime and redemption; about the inexplicable connections people make; and about the power of imagination to redeem anyone.
It is also about the vast imperfections of human life. Nobody gets off easy and no one gets out alive. On top of all that, the writing is fantastic, the dialogue and pace made me breathless and even the most despicable character is lovable. One review called The Keep "deliciously creepy," because totally entwined with the modern hipness is a Gothic feel.
Already from early on in the story there are two layers or stories going; one in the castle and one in a prison. In fact, the person writing the story is a prisoner taking a writing class. I was impressed by the way Egan handled these two layers. Then in the last 25 pages she takes it a surprising layer deeper, which enriches the entire tale. Wow! Wow! Wow!
(The Keep is available in paperback and ebook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)