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The Keep

Cover of The Keep

The Keep

A Novel
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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...
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...
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Description-
  • 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. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story that seamlessly brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpts-
  • Chapter Two He'd never been to a castle before or even this part of the world, but something about it all was familiar to Danny. He seemed to remember the place from a long time ago, not like he'd been here exactly but from a dream or a book. The towers had those square indentations around the top that little kids put on castles when they draw them. The air was cold with a smoky bite, like fall had already come even though it was mid-August and people in New York were barely dressed. The trees were losing their leaves--Danny felt them landing in his hair and heard them crunching under his boots when he walked. He was looking for a doorbell, a knocker, a light: some way into this place or at least a way to find the way in. He was getting pessimistic.

    Danny had waited two hours in a gloomy little valley town for a bus to this castle that never frigging came before he looked up and saw its black shape against the sky. Then he'd started to walk, hauling his Samsonite and satellite dish a couple of miles up this hill, the Samsonite's puny wheels catching on boulders and tree roots and rabbit holes. His limp didn't help. The whole trip had been like that: one hassle after another starting with the red eye from Kennedy that got towed into a field after a bomb threat, surrounded by trucks with blinky red lights and giant nozzles that were comforting up until you realized their job was to make sure the fireball only incinerated those poor suckers who were already on the plane. So Danny had missed his connection to Prague and the train to wherever the hell he was now, some German-sounding town that didn't seem to be in Germany. Or anywhere else--Danny couldn't even find it online, although he hadn't been sure about the spelling. Talking on the phone to his Cousin Howie, who owned this castle and had paid Danny's way to help out with the renovation, he'd tried to nail down some details.

    Danny: I'm still trying to get this straight--is your hotel in Austria, Germany, or the Czech Republic?

    Howie: Tell you the truth, I'm not even clear on that myself. Those borders are constantly sliding around.

    Danny (thinking): They are?

    Howie: But remember, it's not a hotel yet. Right now it's just an old--

    The line went dead. When Danny tried calling back, he couldn't get through.

    But his tickets came the next week (blurry postmark)--plane, train, bus--and seeing how he was newly unemployed and had to get out of New York fast because of a misunderstanding at the restaurant where he'd worked, getting paid to go somewhere else--anywhere else, even the fucking moon--was not a thing Danny could say no to.

    He was fifteen hours late.

    He left his Samsonite and satellite dish by the gate and circled the left tower (Danny made a point of going left when he had the choice because most people went right). A wall curved away from the tower into the trees, and Danny followed that wall until woods closed in around him. He was moving blind. He heard flapping and scuttling, and as he walked the trees got closer and closer to the wall until finally he was squeezing in between them, afraid if he lost contact with the wall he'd get lost. And then a good thing happened: the trees pushed right through the wall and split it open and gave Danny a way to climb inside.

    This wasn't easy. The wall was twenty feet high, jagged and crumbly with tree trunks crushed into the middle, and Danny had a tricky knee from an injury connected to the misunderstanding at work. Plus his boots were not exactly made for climbing--they were city boots, hipster boots, somewhere between square-tipped...
About the Author-
  • Jennifer Egan is the author of Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, Zoetrope, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn.

Reviews-
  • San Antonio Express-News

    "Dazzling. . . . Prodigiously entertaining and profoundly moving."--Madison Smartt Bell, The New York Times Book Review"Daring. . . . Irresistibly suspenseful." --The Los Angeles Times"The events that transpire are so surprising and provocative, the humor so wry, the sheer pleasure of reading The Keep so great, one instantly feels impelled to read it again. . . . Satirically sublime."--Chicago Tribune "Roiling and captivating. . . . As you finish this novel, part horror tale, part mystery, part romance, the mind lingers over it, amazed by how vivid Egan has made it, how witty, how disturbing, how credible, and yet how utterly fantastic."--O, The Oprah Magazine"This neo-gothic tale conjures a wicked form of therapy for BlackBerry-addicted urbanites. . . . Egan's clever scenario presents Danny's mental liberation as both thrilling and dangerous--imagination is the ultimate drug, she suggests--and the novel luxuriates in Wilkie Collins--style atmospherics."--The New Yorker"Egan is an exceptionally intelligent writer whose joy at appropriating and subverting genres and clichés--from prison memoir to Gothic ghost story--is evident on every dizzyingly inventive page."--The Washington Post"[A] remarkable piece of work. . . . Egan effectively echoes the works of Gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe (The Mysteries of Udolpho) and Horace Walpole (Castle of Otranto), fusing a seemingly moribund genre with elements borrowed from the metafictions of John Barth, Italo Calvino and others. It's tricky; but it's a trick only a terrifically talented writer could pull off."--San Francisco Chronicle"If Kafka's Joseph K. and Lewis Carroll's Alice had a son, he would have to be Jennifer Egan's Danny. . . . No matter how many symbols and zany subplots she juggles . . . the novelist keeps the action moving and the irony biting."--Boston Sunday Globe"Intelligent, intense and remarkably intuitive. . . . Jennifer Egan gives us the satisfying thunk of a fully understood if unexpected, kind of sense."--Nan Goldberg, The New York Observer"It's precisely Egan's talent for tapping into the American subconscious--with deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology--driven, image--saturated culture--that has established the author and journalist as a prescient literary voice."--Vogue"Jennifer Egan spins a haunting tale. . . . Egan's brilliance is in balancing the deliciously creepy elements of gothic--castle novels with the dead--on realism of a prisoner's life, to create a book worth keeping."--Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair"Egan's third novel . . . is a strange, clever, and always compelling meditation on the relationship between the imagination and the captivities (psychological, metaphysical, and even physical) of modern life."--The Atlantic Monthly"Visionary . . . at once hyperrealistic and darkly dreamed. . . . With Egan's powers of invention running at full tilt, The Keep reads like a twenty-first-century mash-up of Kafka, Calvino, and Poe, in which the absurd meets the surreal meet the unspeakable--to edgy, entertaining effect."--Lisa Shea, Elle"The Keep is an example of literature responding to current events not with a mirror but an artful mindfuck." --David Bahr, Time Out New York"With The Keep, Egan breaks the mold from page one. Her muscular, lively prose achieves a haunting effect. . . . [The book] maintains a frightening, vertiginous velocity. . . . And the immersion in these high-stakes psychological tightrope acts gives The Keep a page-turning horror. . . . Outstanding."--The Onion"Egan gets everything right--from...

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