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Geek Love
     

Geek Love

4.3 98
by Katherine Dunn
 

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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 . . .

Overview

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.

About the Author: Katherine Dunn lives in Oregon.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Mar . )
Library Journal
Guiding us into the world of the grotesque, Dunn produces a novel of compassion, insight, and macabre humor. At its center are Al and Lil Binewski, carnival owners who breed freak offspring through drug use so that they can perform in the show. Over the years, this ghoulish process becomes the norm; indeed, as we share the experiences of the children, we find that for this close-knit family, a child's signs of normalcy are seen as a real threat. 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, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
From the Publisher
“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

“Like most great novels, this one keeps the reader marveling at the daring of the author.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

“Unrelentingly bizarre . . . perverse but riveting. . . . Will keep you turning the pages.” –Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394569024
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/11/1989
Pages:
347
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

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.

Meet the Author

Katherine Dunn was a novelist and boxing journalist who lived and worked in Oregon. She is the author of three novels: Attic; Truck; and Geek Love, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Bram Stoker Prize. She died in 2016.

Customer Reviews

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Geek Love: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second time I have read this novel. I love the descriptive imagery to help you picture the characters, not only their unique physical appearance but their personalities and demeanors as well. I also very much enjoy the back-and-forth between the past life of Oly's childhood in the Fabulon and present-day in the "real world". Dunn does an extraordinary job of comparing the term "freak"--Chick is the seemingly normal child but treated as the outsider in the family of genetically gifted offspring. Al and Lil create deformities for the allure (enticing patrons to their carnival), while Mary Lick creates deformities for the opposite purpose of causing repulsion (removing women's sex appeal); yet they all seek the human condition of acceptance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was twisted, comical, and touching all at the same time. The title, Geek Love, threw me off at the start, since I thought the storyline would focus on a romance between several socially awkward and rejected indivduals would take place; however, the term "geek" in this context refers to someone in a circus act who bites the heads off of chickens and is broadly labeled as a freak. Very clever and interesting book that kept me hooked despite the title's orginal reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't believe any of the negative reviews. Obviously they were never an escape- starved 13 year old, dreaming of a more extrordanary life...Geek Love was my escape. Wearing a red wig and selling peanuts? I would do it right now. Here's to remembering your dreams....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I got so wrapped up in this book,I felt I was living in the "freak show" world. I recommend this book to everyone who isn't afraid of a little perversity. Its about time I read it again,and again,and again.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story line is amazing, the descpriptions are great and the humor is dark like I like it. This book made ,e laugh out loud at times and also literally shocked me to read the next lines at others. I am forever on a journey to find another great read like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this book, Katherine Dunn explores the levels of 'freakery' within a traveling Circus kind of setting. The layers of the book that shift from being in the present and the past make this book an amazing read. The dynamics of love, hate, and need as well as prejudice are thoroughly explored. Also, the plays on the senses, desensitizing, and sympathies of the reader are all masterfully manipulated for the best sort of result. If you're looking for something to shock you, at times disgust you, and altogether intrigue you until the very end, I would definitely suggest this work.
Eric_J_Guignard More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book! Cannot say enough good things about it. Fascinating, crazy, funny, and tragic. Beautifully written story - just great all-around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
due to life, it took me quite a long time to read this book. not like 3 months, more like over a year, haha! i only say this bc after such a long time not picking it up it was exremely easy to dive back into due to an original story line and memorable characters and once i started i couldn't stop. i like the strange reads and this really got strange. at some points i even felt dirty reading it. i felt for oly not feeling like her siblings and almost being "normal" even though she loved her brother in an not so brotherly way. arty made me so angry at some points but isn't that what a good book is supposed to do? if you like classic literature or even use the word literature, don't pick it up. you might get sick reading it. the story line is great going back and forth from past to present. i was only dissappointed with how fast the book ended, i felt a little rushed in the end and i wanted more of what oly was thinking and why she was going to do what she was going to do (hence the 4 stars). a great book that is out there but intriguing. i recommend to anyone who likes not so typical books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am in love with this book. I love the amazing perspective on normality portrayed be the entire Binewski family, Olympia especially. And I love all of the deep thoughts included in it. One of my favorite areas is where comments upon adult ignorance to how deep a childs problem can be. I just very much enjoyed this fabulous book and belive that anyone who reads it can learn something from it. If not about society, then about themselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the premise revolves around a cast of rather unusual characters, the focus is on the human condition whether you be geek, freak or norm and doing the best in life with what you've been given. I loved how the characters looked down upon 'the norms' as though they were the true freaks. I have read this book several times over the years and the story is just as fresh on the re-read as it was the first time.
ChadHerring More than 1 year ago
I'll admit that I started this book as kind of a joke, poking fun at it silly themes, then all of a sudden BAM! It had me hooked. I'm a slow reader but I read Geek Love in less than a week. Very engrossing and a killer ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Delciously twisted. A rare find.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Vividly descriptive and fairly well-written, this book seems to focus on the shock value in exploring the lives of this surrealistic family. Focus is given to cruelty rather than character exploration. Not a 're-read', or a 'recommend'--more of a curiousity. Like American Psycho, having read the book, I will give it away with no regrets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is is only great if you have the stomach for the strange and abnormal!
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PharisLW More than 1 year ago
"Geek Love" was recommended to me by someone who's clever, funny and very hip. So of course I had to read it...being 65 means I have fallen off the coolness wagon, and I don't want to go to dinner at 4:30 p.m. quite yet, if you know what I mean. ANYWAY...I was indeed pulled into this book and took it with me to read everywhere I had a sitting wait until it was done. It's very very odd, which I enjoyed...and I just had to find out how it ended. However, it left me emotionally unmoved, for all its familial twists and turns. Is it me, or the book? Or an author who would write these characters, who are such painful creatures, into life? I would recommend it to select people just because I want to discuss it with someone else who's read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel has shaken me to my core. I strongley suggest reading it . It reminds us as readers what it means to be human. What you see on the surface is sometimes something different entirely underneath.
Marla-Singer More than 1 year ago
Definitely one of the strangest books I have ever read. Very disturbing yet meaningful. A little bit hard to read and keep up with back and forth dialogue, but the imagery will definitely stay in you mind forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stephen King recommended this book as a great summer read. So one day when I wasin BN I did my free hour read in this book while enjoying a StarBucks coffee and just had to buy it. This is by far the sickest weirdest book I have ever read and I have reada few. But I just could not put it down! Its about a husband and wife who r in the carnival busniss sice birth. They deside to have a family of freaks and go about trying to make birth defects in by doing things while pregnant. Then comes the story of these kids and their lives in the carnival and after . If u like sick puppy book u will like this one but fair warning it is not for everyone, I myself love si k puppy books and this was a 5 star winner for me.
jjelizalde More than 1 year ago
This is without a doubt, the most bizarre, extraordinary book I've ever read.  I couldn't put it down, nor could I look away.  This is a very dark book and certainly not for everyone.  I loved it.  It's unlike anything I've ever read.
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