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Geek Love: A Novel Paperback – June 11, 2002
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A wild, often horrifying, novel about freaks, geeks and other aberrancies of the human condition who travel together (a whole family of them) as a circus. It's a solipsistic funhouse world that makes "normal" people seem bland and pitiful. Arturo the Aqua-Boy, who has flippers and an enormous need to be loved. A museum of sacred monsters that didn't make it. An endearing "little beetle" of a heroine. Sort of like Tod Browning's Freaks crossed with David Lynch and John Irving and perhaps George Eliot -- the latter for the power of the emotions evoked. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This audacious, mesmerizing novel should carry a warning: "Reader Beware." Those entering the world of carnival freaks described by narrator Olympia Binewski, a bald, humpbacked albino dwarf, will find no escape from a story at once engrossing and repellent, funny and terrifying, unreal and true to human nature. Dunn's vivid, energetic prose, her soaring imagination and assured narrative skill fuse to produce an unforgettable tale. The premise is bizarre. Art and Lily, owners of Binewski's Fabulon, a traveling carnival, decide to breed their own freak show by creating genetically altered children through the use of experimental drugs. "What greater gift could you offer your children than an inherent ability to earn a living just by being themselves?" muses Lily. Eventually their family consists of Arty, aka Arturo the Aqua Boy, born with flippers instead of limbs, who performs swimming inside a tank and soon learns how to manipulate his audience; Electra and Iphigenia, Siamese twins and pianists; the narrator, Oly; and Fortunato, also called the Chick, who seems normal at birth, but whose telekinetic powers become apparent just as his brokenhearted parents are about to abandon him. More than anatomy has been altered. Arty is a monsterpower hungry, evil, malicious, consumed by "dark, bitter meanness and . . . jagged rippling jealousy." Yet he has the capacity to inspire adoration, especially that of Oly, who is his willing slave, and who arranges to bear his child, Miranda, who appears "norm," but has a tiny tail. A spellbinding orator, Arty uses his ability to establish a religious cult, in which he preaches redemption through the sacrifice of body partsdigits and limbs."I want the losers who know they're losers. I want those who have a choice of tortures and pick me." This raw, shocking view of the human condition, a glimpse of the tormented people who live on the fringe, makes readers confront the dark, mad elements in every society. After a hiatus of almost two decades, the author of Attic and Truck has produced a novel that everyone will be talking about, a brilliant, suspenseful, heartbreaking tour de force.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The only reason I dock it one star is the ending (more so of the 'past' portion of the story). Though, like a Greek tragedy, you know where the characters will end up from the start, the ending still feels rushed, and some of the characters' actions are suddenly contrary to the attitudes they have displayed throughout the book. For another author it would be less noticeable but Dunn elsewhere devotes whole paragraphs to comparatively minor events, so it's difficult not to feel short-changed.
More generally, the section set in the present is weaker, and incidentally less immediate.
Note: as other readers have noted, this is really not for everyone. Read a sample first; if you enjoy it then you should be hooked.
The story has been brilliantly dark so far and I cannot wait to continue it once the book is replaced!
Olympia Binewski thinks this: "It is, I suppose, the common grief of children at having to protect their parents from reality. It is bitter for the young to see what awful innocence adults grow into, that terrible vulnerability that must be sheltered from the rodent mire of childhood."
Katherine Dunn: serious, believable, bizarre.
Actually, as far as "over the top" disgusting passages are concerned, they were few and far between. I found the novel to be very well written and captivating from start to finish. Our narrator is a hump backed, albino dwarf, the product of genetic engineering with the goal of producing carnival sideshow freaks. Her siblings consist of Siamese twins, a brother with flippers for arms and legs (think thalidomide) and one with telekinetic powers.
There are two threads in the book, one in present day and the primary thread which looks back to the carnival days and the lives of the traveling carnival family and employees. If you are not overly squeamish, you should enjoy the story and the writing contained in this novel.
Once I established that the action was in a sort of alternate world, a magical realism setting, I was able to really enjoy.
This says a lot about human nature and our real world, too.
This is second time I have read this book, years apart, and while I don’t “like” the book, both times I read it with rapt fascination. Geek Love paints a dark and grotesque version of a traveling carnival and the use of power. The narrator, freakish Oly, paints a world shaped by three larger than life individuals – first her father, then her brother, and finally Ms. Lick, who she both likes and wants to destroy. All of these people use (and lose) power to create their own world, shaping those around them to fit their worlds, and all have disastrous results.
Do not read this book expecting a happy ending. There is loss here, and agony; mutilation and abuse; horrible acts and monstrous people. However, there is also love, as the title says, and it is that love that makes this book so fascinating.
So, no, I do not “like” this book. But I will probably read it again in a few years, and I would recommend it to anymore who likes dark, fascinating reads.
Most recent customer reviews
This book came highly recommended from a co-worker. And you know there's no better source of a good read than from a friend.Read more