Sunday, August 26, 2007

What keeps

Stories keep. Good ones, anyway.

Ideas... Some ideas keep better than others.

I've been keeping quiet, keeping a low profile, keeping things to myself, storing up uninteresting anecdotes. Days go by without my writing anything, and it doesn't seem to matter. Everything eventually fades into the background.

I read The Keep some weeks ago, by Jennifer Egan. I really enjoyed it on the level of solid entertainment. Mine was a review copy, as it's just recently out in paperback, and the timing couldn't've been more perfect. It was a great summer read, but its quasi-Gothic feel makes it well-suited to the cool season ahead.

As I mentioned previously, it hints at being deep without being demandingly deep. Sometimes I find that annoying in a book — sometimes it makes me hate a book — but this time it worked for me.

Here's a meaningless comparison: it reminds me of Lev Grossman's Codex. Meaningless cuz nearly nobody's read Codex. And further meaningless cuz I can't really articulate why. The juxtaposition of gothic over thoroughly modern times. Thematically, that old question of reality; the extent to which we are the author's of our own adventures (heroes of our lives), or bit players in someone else's plot. And if it comes to that, I much preferred Codex, which was just, you know, cool.

The Keep has a story (within a fortress, or keep) within a story (within a prison, or keep) within another story (whose destination is the keep). This outermost story was really weak, with a voice insufficiently different from those of the other narrators and that didn't ring true.

Still, the story, as a whole, was kind of cool.

A couple things stick with me.

One is the guy's (the guy in the fortress story) obsession with his cellphone, his satellite, his need to be connected. Because I've felt it too. I think Egan is passing judgement (though I may be wrong), and I'm not sure I agree. We all need to feel connected, and that connection is as valid no matter by what means it takes place, technological or spiritual.

The other is this word KEEP.

2 : one that keeps or protects: as a : FORTRESS, CASTLE; specifically : the strongest and securest part of a medieval castle b : one whose job is to keep or tend c : PRISON, JAIL
3 : the means or provisions by which one is kept

To keep things out like a fortress. To keep things in like a jail.

The thing you take care of. The thing that keeps you going.

And that's the thing I've kept from The Keep — that thing. What's that thing that keeps you going? That drives you.

Love? Truth and honour? My child.

That thing I keep in my keep — it changes. Some days it's the secrets of my past. Some days it's my hopes for the future.

1 : to take notice of by appropriate conduct : FULFILL: as a : to be faithful to b : to act fittingly in relation to c : to conform to in habits or conduct d : to stay in accord with (a beat)
2 : PRESERVE, MAINTAIN: as a : to watch over and defend b (1) : to take care of : TEND (2) : SUPPORT (3) : to maintain in a good, fitting, or orderly condition — usually used with up c : to continue to maintain d (1) : to cause to remain in a given place, situation, or condition (2) : to preserve (food) in an unspoiled condition e (1) : to have or maintain in an established position or relationship — often used with on (2) : to lodge or feed for pay f (1) : to maintain a record in (2) : to enter in a book g : to have customarily in stock for sale
3 a : to restrain from departure or removal : DETAIN b : HOLD BACK, RESTRAIN c : SAVE, RESERVE d : to refrain from revealing
4 a : to retain in one's possession or power b : to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing c : to have in control
5 : to confine oneself to
6 a : to stay or continue in b : to stay or remain on or in usually against opposition : HOLD
intransitive verb
1 chiefly British : LIVE, LODGE
2 a : to maintain a course, direction, or progress b : to continue usually without interruption c : to persist in a practice
3 : STAY, REMAIN : as a : to stay even — usually used with up b : to remain in good condition c : to remain secret d : to call for no immediate action
4 : ABSTAIN, REFRAIN < can't keep from talking >
5 : to be in session
6 of a quarterback : to retain possession of a football especially after faking a handoff
- keep an eye on : WATCH
- keep at : to persist in doing or concerning oneself with
- keep company : to go together as frequent companions or in courtship
- keep house : to manage a household
- keep one's distance or keep at a distance : to stay aloof : maintain a reserved attitude
- keep one's eyes open or keep one's eyes peeled : to be on the alert : be watchful
- keep one's hand in : to keep in practice
- keep one's head down : to avoid attracting notice
- keep one's nose clean : to avoid trouble especially through good behavior
- keep pace : to stay even; also : KEEP UP 1
- keep step : to keep in step
- keep to
1 a : to stay in b : to limit oneself to
2 : to abide by
- keep to oneself
1 : to keep secret
2 : to remain solitary or apart from other people

I have worms in my fridge.

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