The Keep is an unusual, slightly surrealistic novel by Jennifer Egan. I can’t reveal the main gimmick because it would introduce a spoiler, but let’s just say that everything is not as it seemed in the first chapter. In the tradition of Christopher Priest’s wonderful and haunting A Dream of Wessex, it’s not clear what’s real and what’s imagined. Both settings — in both books — are so vividly written that either could be real and either could be imagined.
OK, I realize that that isn’t very clear. But it’s hard to be clear about The Keep without giving something away. This book is part Gothic, part mystery, part historical novel, and part dream. I suspect that it’s the sort of book that you will either love or hate, with little possibility of anything in between. If this brief description piques your curiosity, give it a try.
By the way, there are some serendipitous themes in common with The Rule of Four, which I wrote about last week. For example, both of them involve mysterious journeys through underground tunnels, beneath a university in one case and beneath a castle in the other. And both involve a book within a book. But enough said…