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Keeping Two

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A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers i A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers is individually forced to confront loss, grief, fear, and insecurities in unexpected and shocking ways. Crane's formal use of the comics medium — threading several timelines and the interior and exterior lives of its protagonists together to create an increasing, almost Hitchcockian sense of dread and paranoia — is masterful. But as the title hints, there are dualities at its core that make it one of the most exciting works of graphic literary fiction in recent memory, a brilliant adult drama that showcases a deep empathy and compassion for its characters as well as a visually arresting showcase of Crane's considerable talents. Keeping Two is ostensibly a story about loss, but by the end, it just might also be about finding something along the way — something that had seemed irredeemable up to that point. In that way, it's also a deeply romantic book. Cartoonist Jordan Crane has been one of the most quietly influential comics-makers of the past quarter-century – in multiple senses of the word: as a cartoonist, a designer, an editor, a publisher, a printmaker, an advocate, an archivist, and more. But Keeping Two is his biggest project in close to two decades and will be one of the most anticipated graphic novels of 2022.


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A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers i A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers is individually forced to confront loss, grief, fear, and insecurities in unexpected and shocking ways. Crane's formal use of the comics medium — threading several timelines and the interior and exterior lives of its protagonists together to create an increasing, almost Hitchcockian sense of dread and paranoia — is masterful. But as the title hints, there are dualities at its core that make it one of the most exciting works of graphic literary fiction in recent memory, a brilliant adult drama that showcases a deep empathy and compassion for its characters as well as a visually arresting showcase of Crane's considerable talents. Keeping Two is ostensibly a story about loss, but by the end, it just might also be about finding something along the way — something that had seemed irredeemable up to that point. In that way, it's also a deeply romantic book. Cartoonist Jordan Crane has been one of the most quietly influential comics-makers of the past quarter-century – in multiple senses of the word: as a cartoonist, a designer, an editor, a publisher, a printmaker, an advocate, an archivist, and more. But Keeping Two is his biggest project in close to two decades and will be one of the most anticipated graphic novels of 2022.

30 review for Keeping Two

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    I have liked other work by Jordan Crane, very thoughtful and often moving, but this is (thus far) his biggest project, his magnum opus, taking him twenty years to complete it, and though I knew little about it (except have seen excerpts here and there), I sat down and read it in one sitting, and am the next day reading it again. It's about a familiar moment, maybe, a couple driving in stressful traffic, one irritatingly driving, the other reading a novel aloud--about a similar couple under simil I have liked other work by Jordan Crane, very thoughtful and often moving, but this is (thus far) his biggest project, his magnum opus, taking him twenty years to complete it, and though I knew little about it (except have seen excerpts here and there), I sat down and read it in one sitting, and am the next day reading it again. It's about a familiar moment, maybe, a couple driving in stressful traffic, one irritatingly driving, the other reading a novel aloud--about a similar couple under similar stresses. It's not clear what is happening at all times, on first read, but Crane masterfully uses the comics medium to convey past, present, imagined fears, and in the end this book becomes almost philosophical comics--what am I trying to convey? lyrical abstractions, artistic representations--in an impressive examination of their relationship, loss and love. The title is worth discussing. There seem to be too sides to the anxiety and care, the love and the struggle, and so we see things from each of their perspectives. At one point they hear of two deaths--grandma's dog, a friend--and discuss how "death happens in threes" theory. We are anxious about this in that neither of them are good drivers. We are anxious, too, as things proceed, because the woman seems to have some suicide fantasies as she thinks of what she might do if her partner ever died. At a glance I see some people just hate this book, finding it depressing and/or confusing. It is about moments of struggle and loss in a relationship, so yeah, not always fun. I think it is one of the best comics works of the year, for sure, Crane's best work so far, both moving and impressive.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    TRIGGER WARNINGS: SUICIDE, SELF-HARM I went into this completely blind. Not only is it my preferred way to go into books, but the book has no text on it. There's no descriptions or any kind of hints as to what lies inside. You are forced to judge it by the cover. It's very depressing. I was surprised how dark and sad this was. So please keep that in mind if you are going to pick this up. There are two stories - one story within another - which took a while for me to figure out. The book isn't exact TRIGGER WARNINGS: SUICIDE, SELF-HARM I went into this completely blind. Not only is it my preferred way to go into books, but the book has no text on it. There's no descriptions or any kind of hints as to what lies inside. You are forced to judge it by the cover. It's very depressing. I was surprised how dark and sad this was. So please keep that in mind if you are going to pick this up. There are two stories - one story within another - which took a while for me to figure out. The book isn't exactly linear. The MCs are a m/f couple that fight viciously. I would go so far as to say the man is an asshole. I wouldn't stay in a relationship with him, but YMMV. They come home and find out that Tim's roommate's brother died and so did MC's mother's dog. Because the MC was a superstitious little child and still retains that, he believes three people will die. Since two 'people' - (his wife? Girlfriend?) insists the mom's dog is not a 'person' - have died, a third will surely follow. He strikes a bargain with the woman in which he will do the dishes if she goes out and gets takeout for the couple along with a movie from the local rental store. However, due to his conviction that deaths (or bad things) happen in threes, he becomes increasingly worried about his lover, getting frantic trying to call her, and imagining all sorts of horrible fates befalling her. This culminates into him getting in the car to go search for her. ... That's the basic plot. As far as the feel of the graphic novel, it's all in a sickly green color and it is both sad and stomach-churning. Crane revels in the darkness and delights in showing us all sorts of horrible things, many deaths, murders, rapes and suicides... and other ways people can die. Be prepared. Not only do we have our dour, viciously arguing couple, but there is a side story which apparently is a story the couple is reading which focuses on a woman who goes into labor at a grocery store while her husband is away on business. The baby dies. Both the man and woman are crushed and consumed with mourning, and in this mourning they lash out at each other and say vicious things to each other, accuse each other of being responsible for the baby's death. The woman is worse off, although both carry the thought of the dead baby around with them constantly. She vividly imagines committing suicide every single second. Be prepared for her slicing her stomach open with a butcher knife, slitting her own throat, hanging herself, blowing her brains out etc. etc. etc. etc. This gruesome tableau combined with MC's horrific fantasies (not wanted fantasies, just ones borne of worry and anxiety) of his lover being raped, killed, shot to death etc. etc. etc. and it's making for pretty horrifying, dark, and dismal reading. Although the ending is not as depressing as I thought it would be, that's little consolation for what was, overall, a deeply fucked-up book that I regret reading. TL;DR Not sure what Crane's message was here. Although the ending was hopeful and not the despair-fest I was anticipating, the overall tone of the book is quite grim. Not only is there tons of violence and despair, but all the couples are rather hateful to each other and argue viciously with each other, even though Crane is telling us they love each other. Does he think this is normal? Perhaps it is normal and I have just gotten lucky. If I argued with a man the way couples argue with each other in this book, viciously angry, cutting, and aiming to wound each other deeply, I would end the relationship, but I think Crane thinks these are strong couples who can make it. Baffling to this reader, but everyone has different life experiences, I guess. Too violent and depressing for my tastes. I didn't enjoy it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    The alternating storylines and jumping around through me a bit. But the more I read the more I was able to piece together this graphic novel. A young couple is going through a rough patch and their recent car ride has the tensions even higher. They are frazzled and annoyed with each other. They are both also reading and reacting to a book with "similar" struggles and both process that story a little differently. As the evening progresses they are both confronting their inner demons and evaluatin The alternating storylines and jumping around through me a bit. But the more I read the more I was able to piece together this graphic novel. A young couple is going through a rough patch and their recent car ride has the tensions even higher. They are frazzled and annoyed with each other. They are both also reading and reacting to a book with "similar" struggles and both process that story a little differently. As the evening progresses they are both confronting their inner demons and evaluating how important they are to each other. Beautifully illustrated but at times a little tricky to figure out where the story is leading you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    A man gets stuck in a spiral of catastrophic thinking when his girlfriend fails to return in a timely manner from an errand. A novel they were reading to each other during a car trip and that the man continues on his own to distract himself from the cascade of death and rape scenarios provides a story-within-a-story about a couple taking an ocean cruise in an attempt to deal with relationship issues caused by a stillbirth. The worry and anxiety are universally recognizable, but then I have to won A man gets stuck in a spiral of catastrophic thinking when his girlfriend fails to return in a timely manner from an errand. A novel they were reading to each other during a car trip and that the man continues on his own to distract himself from the cascade of death and rape scenarios provides a story-within-a-story about a couple taking an ocean cruise in an attempt to deal with relationship issues caused by a stillbirth. The worry and anxiety are universally recognizable, but then I have to wonder why I'd want to wallow in it with someone who can't stop, especially when the wallow seems to be the whole point of the story. And on top of the man's graphic images of worst-case scenarios, we're fed a stream of graphic images of suicidal ideation and self-harm from another character. Is the purpose to literally burn out my schadenfreude? A fresh take on torture porn horror movies? ("The calls are coming from inside your head!") Then to really piss me off, it ends with a stupid extended psychedelic dream sequence. Thanks for wasting my time, Jordan Crane. FOR REFERENCE Collects material originally published in Jordan Crane's anthology Uptight (2006) #1-5 and then reprinted and continued in Keeping Two #1-8.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.T.

    I feel like Crane has been working on this book FOREVER! I remember buying screen-printed minis of the early chapters and getting very invested in the story. Some of it was serialized in his UPTIGHT series as well. At some point, I missed a few chapters (and when I tried to find them online, they were sold out). It's one of those loose threads that has always nagged at me. So, I'm delighted to have the complete story collected here. The presentation is gorgeous. Little details like rounded corner I feel like Crane has been working on this book FOREVER! I remember buying screen-printed minis of the early chapters and getting very invested in the story. Some of it was serialized in his UPTIGHT series as well. At some point, I missed a few chapters (and when I tried to find them online, they were sold out). It's one of those loose threads that has always nagged at me. So, I'm delighted to have the complete story collected here. The presentation is gorgeous. Little details like rounded corners, debossed elements in the cover, and (confusing to me, but interesting) a little author name card glued onto the endpapers show that Fantagraphics went the extra mile to highlight this being a special book. Crane takes full advantage of the comics medium, using different style panel borders to indicate flashbacks, imagined scenarios, and a story-within-a-story, floating letters and symbols to indicate various noises, superimposed design elements to heighten confusion, distress, etc. I should also note how much I love Crane's character design and scenery (which includes everyday objects like stoves and kitchen faucets that are drawn with equal amounts attention to detail and simplicity). His ability to draw feet, hands, shoes, clothes, cars, and water are unparalleled.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Mlinarcik

    Wholly hypnotic and entirely heartbreaking. I remember finding the first few installments of this story on Red Ink Like Blood well over a decade ago, getting roped into its central thematic mystery, and then waiting at the cold end of its trail for new footprints to drop. Sometimes they'd appear in the form of a new post, a few dozen digital pages at a time, or I'd happen upon an actual, physical zine installment somewhere in the wild. It felt trying to scrape together the pieces of a dream, one Wholly hypnotic and entirely heartbreaking. I remember finding the first few installments of this story on Red Ink Like Blood well over a decade ago, getting roped into its central thematic mystery, and then waiting at the cold end of its trail for new footprints to drop. Sometimes they'd appear in the form of a new post, a few dozen digital pages at a time, or I'd happen upon an actual, physical zine installment somewhere in the wild. It felt trying to scrape together the pieces of a dream, one I'd been having for years and would occasionally have the wherewithal to jot down (to varying degrees of success). For a long while, it seemed like we'd never actually get the whole story, or if it was complete, it'd exist in disparate parts, up to some kind-hearted internet denizens to re-construct for everyone else. But here we are! Crane came through and has handed us an overwhelming tome that fluidly blends casual superstitions, emotional hardships, painful grievances, otherworldly encounters, and the futility, frailty, and finality of our bodies, all amplified by the author's sharp, graphically cinematic sensibilities. Take it in one sitting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Had I not read the summary for this, I would have been so very lost in the tide-like timelines. I'm not big on romance and while this isn't technically a romance, it does focus on a couple coming down from a fight and then during four hours of separation, revving themselves right back up again. Also, they're terrible drivers and should probably both take public transit everywhere all the time. It's uncomfortable but not in a way that made me think, more in a way of being at an event where you're st Had I not read the summary for this, I would have been so very lost in the tide-like timelines. I'm not big on romance and while this isn't technically a romance, it does focus on a couple coming down from a fight and then during four hours of separation, revving themselves right back up again. Also, they're terrible drivers and should probably both take public transit everywhere all the time. It's uncomfortable but not in a way that made me think, more in a way of being at an event where you're stuck with some acquaintances and they're fighting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Davenport

    Talk about a book just riddled with anxiety! I was more on edge after I finished it than I was when I started it. The art is ok.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric Benson

    Simply illustrated and colored in shades of lime green this is a beautifully sad story of two different couples experiencing trauma in their marriages. From a loss of a child to growing divides, two couples struggle with the present, past, and future all at once. The couples are not connected but their stories blend together in this well choreographed story. If you are in need of reflection about your own life and relationships then I recommend this, but if you are having a bright cheery day, st Simply illustrated and colored in shades of lime green this is a beautifully sad story of two different couples experiencing trauma in their marriages. From a loss of a child to growing divides, two couples struggle with the present, past, and future all at once. The couples are not connected but their stories blend together in this well choreographed story. If you are in need of reflection about your own life and relationships then I recommend this, but if you are having a bright cheery day, stay away! :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    becca ☾

    it was so.... green... sickly green

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Talk about anxiety-inducing……..!

  12. 4 out of 5

    kavi

    I’ll never forget how this book made me feel :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I'm not quite sure how this one got categorized as teen on Hoopla because there's nothing about it that would strike me as beneficial for a teen reader. It's dark, nonlinear, and about the machinations of life with enormous fear and tragedy. There are several storylines working together as well as time periods of past/present/future in this green-palleted color scheme and it's not always super clear though you can feel the visceral emotions of characters. Death, mental anguish, stress all combin I'm not quite sure how this one got categorized as teen on Hoopla because there's nothing about it that would strike me as beneficial for a teen reader. It's dark, nonlinear, and about the machinations of life with enormous fear and tragedy. There are several storylines working together as well as time periods of past/present/future in this green-palleted color scheme and it's not always super clear though you can feel the visceral emotions of characters. Death, mental anguish, stress all combine to create a dark portrait that's if nothing else, realistic albeit overwhelming when taken all at once. I can recognize the creative undertaking and care that was put into designing something that I'm sure I'm missing several layers too while also still feeling a lot of somethings when reading it nonetheless.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doug Chase

    Keeping Two is a quiet, thoughtful, impressionistic story of a couple. The author uses the comic strip form to tell the many timelines and threads of their difficult and challenging relationship. This deeply felt tale makes full use of the graphic novel format to pull the reader in, make the reader stop and re-read and think. This is a smart and human book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bissmeyer

    I finished this book and wanted to immediately start it again. Crane beautifully captures how we can send ourselves, and our relationships, into doom spirals when we spend too much time acting out of fear and guilt. It's when we get past our own bullshit that we can truly connect and be present with people we love, and in the end, that's what matters most. Masterfully done. I finished this book and wanted to immediately start it again. Crane beautifully captures how we can send ourselves, and our relationships, into doom spirals when we spend too much time acting out of fear and guilt. It's when we get past our own bullshit that we can truly connect and be present with people we love, and in the end, that's what matters most. Masterfully done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Creatively structured story about a couple's relationship interwoven with that of a couple in a book they are reading together and also worst case hypotheticals running through their minds when they are separated. The ending gets a little too trippy, but overall a compelling book. Creatively structured story about a couple's relationship interwoven with that of a couple in a book they are reading together and also worst case hypotheticals running through their minds when they are separated. The ending gets a little too trippy, but overall a compelling book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Some hefty feels. I don't usually log the comics I read on here but this is not your average graphic novel. Grief, loss, love, apathy, terror, anxiety, waiting. "The rest of our lives seems like a long time, but it isn't." Some hefty feels. I don't usually log the comics I read on here but this is not your average graphic novel. Grief, loss, love, apathy, terror, anxiety, waiting. "The rest of our lives seems like a long time, but it isn't."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hawpe

    Jordan Crane's Keeping Two is a stunningly gorgeous meditation on love, fear, and connection whose elegant simplicity, electric candy-colors and soft, bouncy line work hide the depth of emotion in his story: like a deliciously sweet coating on a savory, nutritious meal for your mind and heart. Jordan Crane's Keeping Two is a stunningly gorgeous meditation on love, fear, and connection whose elegant simplicity, electric candy-colors and soft, bouncy line work hide the depth of emotion in his story: like a deliciously sweet coating on a savory, nutritious meal for your mind and heart.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This was extremely difficult to follow. Some of the segments were effective at conveying a feeling, but in this completely non-linear format I felt lost for most of the book. Maybe that's just on me for being unsophisticated. This was extremely difficult to follow. Some of the segments were effective at conveying a feeling, but in this completely non-linear format I felt lost for most of the book. Maybe that's just on me for being unsophisticated.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Pretty rough. The layered perspectives and inner narratives give it a weird, emotional, vintage Twilight Zone vibe at times...but that doesn't really do it justice. I'm a fan of Crane's art and his intense story lives up to the visuals. Pretty rough. The layered perspectives and inner narratives give it a weird, emotional, vintage Twilight Zone vibe at times...but that doesn't really do it justice. I'm a fan of Crane's art and his intense story lives up to the visuals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Barsanti

    Reviewed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Reviewed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Stensloff

    anxiety-inducing, heart-wrenching, and beautiful ❤️

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aileen

    I think I liked it? It was intense and a lot, one to think about/that makes you think.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Coffeecups

    2.5 star

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aurora

    It was competently made, I think, I just find books like this insufferable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    BiblioBeruthiel

    This is extremely violent and disturbing and doesn't pull off a story or message that justifies wading through all of that. This is extremely violent and disturbing and doesn't pull off a story or message that justifies wading through all of that.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Link

    A spare and melancholy graphic novel about love and loss.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    You guys, this is set in Somerville.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    Welp, that was intense.

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