This week I’ll be sharing one of my favorite books. I reread it last year, and it definitely held its appeal for me.
Image courtesy of http://www.npr.org.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Geek Love tells the story of the Binewskis, a carny family. The mother and father decide early on to have a lot of children, and, in order to continue the family tradition of working at/owning a carnival, they decide to ensure these children are freaks. The mother, Crystal Lil, takes varying concoctions of chemicals while pregnant as dictated by her husband, Al. This results in children with varying degrees of deformity, including Arty (the “Aquaboy” with flippers for limbs), Elly and Iphy (beautiful Siamese twins), Oly (a hunchback albino dwarf), and Chick (outwardly normal with powerful mental abilities). In addition to these children, they had several that didn’t make it … These failures are on display in jars in a trailer for carnival goers.
As I was reading it the second time around, I realized there was a lot that I didn’t remember. Some things I didn’t (or maybe couldn’t) forget, but there were quite a few times that I felt like I was reading the book for the first time.
It’s a pretty dark novel, told from the point of view of Oly and alternating between her youth as a carny and her adulthood, filled primarily with obsessing over and semi-stalking the daughter she gave up years ago. I personally preferred the chapters covering her youth … The interactions between the siblings ranged from sweet to shocking, and the gradual changes that occur within the family lead up to a startling conclusion to that portion of the book.
I would definitely recommend Geek Love to others, though I would probably point out that it can be pretty disturbing at times. It’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read … And that’s really saying a lot. Katherine Dunn’s character development is excellent, and that’s no small feat considering the large number of main characters. She does a great job of keeping your interest as well … I never felt like I was just slogging through to try to get to the end. I’ve been interested in reading some of her other novels, though apparently there are only two others and they’re both out of print. Regardless, I think Geek Love is fairly easy to find and worth the read.
I rate Geek Love FIVE STARS. It was as enjoyable (if not more so!) the second time around. I will read it again in the future … Maybe I’ll discover new things I didn’t notice the first or second time.