One reading goal that I rarely seem to achieve is to go outside the reading box I’ve created for myself. Sci-fi/fantasy books are great, but I almost always choose classic lit or science fiction book over a modern fiction piece. Recently I have been doing better (in large part thanks to books I borrowed from new friends). Part of this blog and my desire to share my reading adventures, however, is that I learn to push my reading boundaries! So in the spirit of being open-minded, I went to the library and found a new author I read about in this interview.

The Keep: A novel

I was disappointed that my town’s library did not have her new book that was discussed in the interview (in fact, The Keep was her only book they had!), but her writing style and method sounded so interesting and different that I just had to read one of Egan’s books. The Keep did not fail to deliver the unique and distinguished writing style she became known for, and it was truly a different style than anything else I’ve read.

This book has three narrators,  although it is not like the traditional multiple-point-of-view book. One narrator/set of characters are in a story being told by another narrator/set of characters, and out of that set the third narrator, previously a minor character, becomes the focus in the last quarter of the book. All very confusing, I know. What makes it more confusing is the transition between the first two narrators…or the lack of transition. The change in narrator does not always happen at the end of a chapter, but instead may occur in the middle of a page. The first time it happened, and the second narrator (the one telling the first narrator’s story) was introduced, I was two pages into the new story line before I figured out what was going on!

The story line is actually very easy to follow (which makes the complex style easier to follow): a convict in prison is taking a writing class to pass some time in the evenings, and the story he reads to the class in shared with us, the readers. The story the convict, Ray, is telling his class is the first thing you read, which makes Danny (the main character in Ray’s story) seem more real and more important than Ray himself. As the book continues we learn more of Ray’s backstory and he becomes a fully developed character, but Danny and his adventure still take precedent over Ray. Even the last narrator, Ray’s writing teacher, seems more “real” than Ray himself.

While I did enjoy the book and her writing style as a break from my normal reads, some parts of the book went so slow that I often had to force my self to get through it. Ray admits that his story is not well written due to his lack of real training, and in some parts it was clear Egan was trying to write badly. To me, this dialog and few over-the-top descriptions or plot twists were painful to read because they clashed so much with the rest of the well-written book. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a new author or a fun read, but plan on reading more of her books in the hopes they are more enjoyable.

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