Tag Archives: uni stuff

Review: ‘The Keep’ by Jennifer Egan

Picked this one up from the library while searching for their apparently invisible Phillip K Dick section(¡so frustrating!). Last term I studied ‘Look at Me’ by Egan and very much enjoyed it; it was a mix of sub-plots that didn’t even really culminate into something but that did seem to be the point. The exploration of new ways of thinking and connecting with people through the internet, as well as the power of the old, was not only enjoyable but intellectually-engaging.

‘The Keep’ is, somewhat unfortunately, much of the same. Different character’s stories (literally) overlap, and this time the culmination seems obvious and yet is played out in the same way- the main female character is the last voice, bringing all of the stories to a conclusion in a way that allows her to seemingly escape from the strangleholds of contemporary society.

The tone, as well, is very similar, and yes, they’re written by th esame author so you would expect some overlap, but for me it had an almost distorting effect on the castle setting as it was a very American ‘European Castle’ setting. Which yeah, the reason that is like that becomes apparent but still, I couldn’t get over how similar the despondency of the tine was to ‘Look at Me’.

And it wasn’t just that that was similar; I recognised the characters! Or at least some of them. Z was there, inhabiting Danny. Charlotte in Holly, Moose in Howie. Again, this was a shame because the plot itself was almost different, almost. Themes were the same; dis/connection, identity in recognising and being recognised (alto), insincerity, and the old wielding it’s power over the new.

With all that said, it did make me cry. At a similar point that I think ‘Look at Me’ made me cry. The motif of the mother not being able to cope, collapsing in bed and not being able to move; it does make me wonder if Egan has experience along these lines. This time, the daughters’ one comment, ‘I just want you to get better’, well, it hit home, too hard, and I struggled to get through the rest of the book before allowing that emotion to overtake me. It’s not something I often do, it’s weak, it may break me- my resolve, and I have to be strong which often leads to me just not feeling.

So, I just wanted to say thank you, to Jennifer Egan, thank you for writing something that while I see all of it’s similarities to another of your books, actually achieves the aims outlined in the plot; it made me feel again, if only for a night, and for that I am truly grateful.

*Cheesy Cheerleading Gestures*

My question really is, is it worth it?

I’m at uni, yes. I enjoy my course, yes. But am I really able to take it that step further, am I willing to take it further than what I am handed and given to explore? I don’t know.

I have no motivation this week and maybe that’s because it’s January but I don’t really remember feeling actual proper motivation on this course that wasn’t in some way linked to pressing time constraints which always motivates me and is the time when I do some of my best work.

I have lists of extra stuff to look into, extra reading I (would like to) should be doing. Is it a problem that I always think should,not would like to? I don’t know. I suppose it may be, it must be pretty difficult to get motivated about something you have to do, always has had that effect on me anyway.

If I’m not motivated enough to be looking into extra stuff, should I be here? Should I be investing my time and other people’s money elsewhere, and save us all a load of work by actually finding something that I push myself on?

I feel like the answer is no, should be no. I’ve worked my whole life to get here, as has my other to support me through it. I’m not doing this out of obligation to my family, it is something that I want to do. But, as some say, I am ‘consumerist’ I do just sit there and let it come at me; not that I don’t interrogate what I’m given, I just only interrogate what I’m given and I feel I should be doing more than that if this is truly what I want and am interested in.

If I want to do a postgrad, should I not be doing more research into the stuff in it? If I am passionate about completing this degree to the highest standard, should I not be researching what I want to do for my dissertation? Should I not have an idea or a few on what I want to do my dissertation on? Identity is as far as I’ve gotten and considering identity is a lot of what we do it’s not very bloody specific.

If this is what I want to do, I should relax with it, take my time, digest it, learn how to be a student and learn how to be a critic. That is what I am, after all, here to do, to learn how to be (and ‘how to do’ in their words.)

I will research those things, but I have to do my actual work first. And I hear you, niggle, I should get a job, but you know what; I’m gonna throw that out the window till next term for the pure and simple reason that, I want to be a good, diligent, passionate student who researches the random shit their brain comes up with and the tenuous links and extra articles that get referenced. And if it takes another term of non-real-life-paid-work, then that’s what it takes – doesn’t mean I have to stop looking in the meantime if I want to, it’s just not a priority.

‘Grats brain, you made a decision. And guess what? It doesn’t need affirming by anyone but you/me, and we affirm that mf decision, and if you still wanna check it with people, that’s also fine. Go us! *cheesy cheerleading gestures*