The Keep by Jennifer Egan was originally published in 2006. My paperback copy has 255 pages. After having been repeatedly on and off my wish list, when I saw a copy of The Keep in the clearance section at my local used book store, I repeated this same exercise: first I passed on it and then decided to pick it up. It isn't what I expected, and I was mildly surprised. I'm not sure that the description on the cover does it justice. I liked the dual story lines. The first narrative is the gothic story line about the two cousins and the creepy castle. The second narrative is the author of the first, a prisoner named Ray. Ultimately, however, I wasn't completely satisfied with the merging of the narratives and the ending in the final third part of The Keep. It was worth reading, however. Rating: 3.5
Synopsis from cover: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.
"Danny was nervous about seeing his cousin after so long. The Howie he knew as a kid you couldn't picture grown up..." pg. 7
"Howie's troubles were a favorite family topic, and behind the shaking heads and the 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 [messed] up so fantastically that everyone else feels like a model citizen next to him?" pg. 8
"Danny felt uncomfortable around Howard. But uncomfortable sounds mild and what Danny felt was not mild, it was miserable. He couldn't define the misery. He couldn't even name the symptoms, except one: he wanted to get away. Now." pg.24
"The keep is the place where everyone holed up if the castle got invaded. Kind of a last stand. The stronghold." pg. 26
"But being inside changes everything. Stuff you'd call common or even flat-out invisible in the outside world turns precious in here, with magical uses you never thought of." pg. 57