Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More summer reading: The Keep

I had never read Jennifer Egan before. The reviews of The Keep were so good that I put it on my list about a year ago. It was very enjoyable; I kept thinking that it really was a perfect vacation read--neither too light or too ponderous. It was a satisfying mix of the contemporary and the old-fashioned gothic thriller, complete with a castle, ghosts, murders, dream sequences, dungeons...the whole nine yards (to mix in a sports metaphor). There's text and there's metatext, and maybe a little meta-meta-text. Fun! It reminded me of both Stewart O'Nan's The Speed Queen and Peter Cameron's Andorra (two old favorites) with a side of Horace Walpole!

I'm nearly finished with Zadie Smith's On Beauty. To be such a youngun' she certainly seems worldly and wise. Also, the other W -- witty. It's a campus novel, an homage to E.M. Forster (so she states upfront, and I definitely see the link with Howard's End), a clash of ideologies, and an almost bedroom farce...almost. She's rather relentless in not letting any characters off the hook. I like this description from Time magazine: "Cultures don't clash in Zadie Smith's books. They arm wrestle, get in one another's faces and climb into one another's beds." That's hitting the nail on the head for White Teeth as well.

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