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Geek Loveby Katherine Dunn
The Binewskis are just the typical Portland family: Traveling carnies Al and Lil Binewski breed their own carnival oddities through drug experimentation and radiation. Their children include a boy-fish, conjoined twins, a hunchbacked albino dwarf, and one son without any such talents. Well, the siblings fight, the carnival becomes a cult, and things spiral out of control... then we end up in Portland for an emotional and empowering ending. Okay, maybe it's not all set in the Northwest, but it certainly packs a punch.
This is the book I recommend more than any other — I can barely hold onto a copy of it because I am always giving it away to anyone who I think needs something that will blow the top of their skull off. On one level, it is the engaging, creepy, and extraordinary story of a family of purposely designed circus freaks, as told by the hunchback albino dwarf sister. On another level, it is a story about identity and belonging: How do you define yourself in terms of your family? Your culture? Your body? Your religion? How do you know what or who you really are?
Synopses & Reviews
Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out — with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes — to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There's Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan... Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins... albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family's most precious — and dangerous — asset.
As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.
"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....a novel that everyone will be talking about, a brilliant, suspenseful, heartbreaking tour de force." Publishers Weekly
"Page after page she shocks us....A Fellini movie in ink." San Francisco Chronicle
"Wonderfully descriptive...the comic exploration of the peculiar...gives Geek Love its main success: that and Ms. Dunn's tremendous imagination." New York Times Book Review
"What elevates this work is Dunn's controlled, matter-of-fact narrative, her skillful character development, and her relentless insistence that we address these people and their concerns in human terms. Highly recommended." Joseph M. Levandoski, Library Journal
"A Fellini movie in ink.... Geek Love throws a punch." San Francisco Chronicle
"Wonderfully descriptive....Dunn [has a] tremendous imagination." The New York Times Book Review
"Unrelentingly bizarre.... perverse but riveting....Will keep you turning the pages." Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Katherine Dunn lives in Oregon.
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