Half tall tale, half literary experiment, Jennifer Egan's "The Keep" is more than the sum of its parts. The story starts with two cousins, Danny and Howard. Although they never talk about it, they are bound by a childhood prank that nearly resulted in Howard's death.
"After high school, Danny went to New York thinking he would be a success. Now he's an aging party boy with a tricky knee that's "connected to the misunderstanding at work." He's made more than one enemy, and he's more than happy to get out of town when his cousin sends him an airline ticket.
"Rather improbably (or not, given the malfeasance of Tyco, Enron and their ilk) after a stint in reform school, Howard got rich trading bonds. So rich he retired at 34 and bought a castle in Europe. Now he wants Danny's help in turning it into a hotel. Howard wants his hotel a connection-free zone -- check your cell phone and laptop at the door. "Let people be tourists of their own imagination," Howard says."
As a writer, this book is a double pleasure. It's not only an interesting story, it's also a chance to watch a writer at the top of her game.
And as a reader, the book made me think about my connections to the Internet and cellphones. Denied them, Danny nearly goes crazy. I think I've almost gotten to the same point.