Kinx's Book Nook: Review: Geek Love

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: Geek Love

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Publishedby Alfred A. Knopf (a division of Random House)
Releasedin 1989
Paperback,368 pages

From Goodreads:

Geek Love isthe story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias setout – with the help of amphetamine, arsenic and radioisotopes – to breed theirown exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers forlimbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan…Iphy and Elly, thelissome 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 actacross the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderousrevulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of siblingrivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurouslight on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and theugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.

GeekLove is a powerful reading experience. I read this book last year and I stillcan’t stop thinking about it. The images from this book are strong andprovocative, something you can’t forget. Just by reading the first sentence ofthe synopsis, parents who create their own freak show, you know that you are infor a wild and insane ride.

Ms.Dunn created a unique and disturbing menagerie of characters with the storytold from the perspective of the albino dwarf, Oly. She tells of her lifebefore and after her carny life was destroyed. Oly never considers herself asuccessful member of her family; but she clung to her life in the carny world. Herlife revolves around her more powerful siblings. She is their caretaker andfollower. She is stuck in the middle of a deadly sibling conflict.   

Throughoutthe book, Oly takes us through all the dynamics that surround her disconcertingfamily. The constant battles of family supremacy continue to put Oly in themiddle and she must pick sides, with the sides ever-changing. Her presentconsists of constantly keeping vigil over her daughter. Oly’s raging emotionsconcerning her daughter, Miranda, are at the same time vicious and somewhatmotherly. Oly’s character makes you feel many things: horror, revulsion, and sympathy.

Arturo,the Aquaboy, is the main attraction at the Binewski carnival. He is totallydependent on his family for his basic needs; but he rules over them with atyrannical fist. He constantly feels threatened, especially by his sisters,Iphy and Elly. They are in constant battle on who is the main carnivalattraction. Their parents, Al and Crystal, let their creations take over, ruleand ultimately destroy their family. Furthermore, Arturo has a fanaticalfollowing that eventually turns into a cult. He preaches that the only way to “Peace,Isolation, Purity” was to become like him. He is able convince his followers tohave their extremities amputated to feel isolated and helpless, which feedsArturo’s megalomaniacal needs. He is truly a diabolical character.

Thenthere is Chick…the little innocent and dangerous boy who brings destruction tothem all. All Chick wants is for his family to be happy. However, h e is theone who brings a brutal finality to this tragic sibling rivalry.

Ifound this book to be an amazing read. It is disturbing but intriguing. Youwill not be able to put it down. Be careful not to read it before you go tosleep because you will have some serious funky dreams.  I DID!

Rating:4 out of 5 Stars


  1. Ha!! Nice cover shot. I haven't seen that one before. Sums the book up perfectly! I loved Geek Love too. Such a good book, I don't think I'll ever forget it.


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