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I write by hand--usually one long draft that I scribble out quickly (5-10 pages a day) and poorly. I do this almost completely from the gut, with very little sense of where I'm going. It's often in the process of this almost unconscious writing that I discover characters and action. When the first draft is done, I type it into the computer (the parts I can read anyway; I have wretched handwriting) and see what I've got. Not a word of that first draft usually makes it anywhere near the final draft--which, in the case of some chapters of Look at Me, my last novel, was sixty to seventy drafts later. I edit by hand on a hard copy, then type in the changes and print it out again for further editing. The writing itself always remains instinctive, but there is a strong analytical counterpart, when I figure out what I'm doing in terms of plot, characters, thematic underpinnings, and then scheme about how I can do it better. I save every draft until a book is done; a towering pile of paper that I eventually, joyfully, recycle.
Q: Some of the most powerful (and terrifying) moments in the book deal with claustrophobia. Are you claustrophobic?
A: I almost never write about myself, or things that have happened in my own life, or about people I know. I like to make all of it up--or at least, I think I'm making it up, until later I realize how much of my own experience has crept into my books, disguised even from me. For example: I'm not claustrophobic, but I've certainly been paranoid, and the two are closely linked. I wanted to capture the way that paranoia (like claustrophobia) can instantly turn a benign environment into an unmitigated nightmare. One question is always at the center of such experiences: is this real, or am I making it up? We live in very paranoid times. I was interested in the way paranoia can make someone turn threatening and aggressive in exactly the ways they perceive the world to be. They become the very monster they fear.
Q: What author/s have inspired you?
A: In the big, long-term ways: Lawrence Sterne, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Emile Zola, George Eliot, Robert Stone, Don DeLillo, Jean Rhys.
For The Keep, the list is slightly different. There are some fantastic (and totally insane) Gothic novels that I had a ball reading: Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Matthew Lewis's The Monk--those are all 18th century books--and then from the 19th century, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, which is an absolutely drop-dead great thriller.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Did not hold my attention and not really knowing what happened to Ray Dobbs just ruined it.Published 12 days ago by Carolyn Tillman
If I read this before, Goon Squad, it would've received a 5-str rating. But Egan got better! Be aware the first part of the book lulls you into a fasle sense of security;... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joshua B. Buhs
Evocative the way a gothic novel should be, but with a modern sensibility & a smart interweaving of narrative threads. Read morePublished 3 months ago by deborah_b
Jennifer Egan’s The Keep hits on what is a very interesting concept: bringing back together two cousins years after a tragic prank. Read morePublished 4 months ago by BrentG
Jennifer Egan is a rare writer: one who can delve into big ideas AND tell an engaging story. In this novel, she explores the hyper-connectivity of our world and the complications... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Al Stewart
I kept hanging in there but wish I'd just saved myself all the time I spent reading it. Fairly meaningless and pointless story.Published 6 months ago by Elizabeth Harvey
THE KEEP is a great example of a clever idea marred by its execution. I knew nothing of this novel when I purchased it, only buying it because I enjoyed A Visit From The Goon Squad... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mark Eremite
I think this is Jennifer Egan's best work. The setting is charming, the characters are vivid and believable. Everything about it is compelling. Ms. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jamesfsf