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.
There’s a good reason why Jordan Crane’s amazing new graphic novel, a gorgeous-looking book that comes with rounded corners and thick ivory paper, looks a bit like an expensive journal. Keeping Two is indeed a kind of diary, its narrative comprised almost entirely of the innermost thoughts of its two characters. Just as in a diary, nothing much seems to happen for pages at a time and yet everything does ... isn’t a straightforward read. Crane, an award-winning cartoonist, is ambitious for his medium and his narrative shifts constantly between past and present, fantasy and reality, with a speed that can be confusing; every page – every frame – is bathed in a bright, leafy green and this sometimes makes it hard to read characters’ emotions (after a few hundred pages, it’s pretty tiring on the eye too). But it also repays patience, its powerful climax at once deeply connected to, and utterly at odds with, the frustrating detours that precede it. If it is, at moments, about claustrophobia and loss, its larger message has to do with human connection: how we long for it and yet how easily we take it for granted.
... transcendent ... a gorgeous and unforgettable ending ... The fresh absence of loved ones is shown with dotted outline ghosts, resulting in many poignant and affecting scenes. Like a unique dialect, it takes some time to grow accustomed to the storytelling style, but once its mechanisms are understood, it results in intense, profound communication ... wenty years passed between the publication of the first part of this story and this complete edition. Deceptive in its complexity and rewarding of multiple readings, Keeping Two is a romantic graphic novel with deep emotional impact.
Crane exhibits virtuosic mastery of sequential narrative and page design, seamlessly shifting through time and space and layers of reality to capture his protagonist’s increasingly frantic stream of consciousness. The effect is occasionally nerve-wracking, but brilliantly effective; tales so interior rarely deliver such visceral impact ... Crane’s magnum opus is a stylistically adventurous evocation of how fear and grief create barriers to genuine intimacy. Not to be missed.