Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Keep by Jennifer Egan

"I close my eyes and jump in"
When you are reading The Keep that is perhaps the best thing to do. After reading this book, I read several reviews that called it "confusing" and "convoluted." But I disagree. What we have in The Keep is a delightful reversion to a style more like Wilkie Collins or Edgar Allen Poe in which the reader simply has to be patient and wait while bit by bit of the story is unfolded and revealed at the pace of the author's choosing. No, you won't understand everything from the beginning. In a book that holds secrets and mysteries spanning over a period of thirty or more years, you aren't supposed to.
Even more delightful to me was the discovery, some 60 pps into the novel that there is a second and even eventually a third story line. Each weaving and twining in and around the others spiraling downward to a point where all the stories come together and all the mysteries are revealed. While I originally bemoaned the lack of punctuation, as the story lines unfolded I realized that this was a brilliant and pivotal part of the story as well. Not all of the story is unpunctuated, to tell you why would be to spoil some of the surprise.
It's a story of mystery and secrets but also of forgiveness and redemption, of leaving the darkness and finding yourself again in the light. Don't go there looking for John Grisham style action, you won't find it. The pacing, the style, the slow tightening of tension bit by delicious bit is what makes this such an unforgettable book. It is one of my favorites this year.

1 comment:

kookiejar said...

I'm really glad you liked this one. I was unsure of it at first, like you were, but as I realized more and more of what was really going on I enjoyed it more and more. It's a very complex, yet not difficult novel and I liked it for that reason.