Posted by: Yona Williams | January 12, 2009

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

geekloveIf you’re looking for a tale of two nerds falling in love, think again. You’re certainly in for a roller-coaster ride of emotions, as ‘Geek Love’ by Katherine Dunn delivers an insightful journey into the world of a rather functional dysfunctional family. During the days when circuses traveled from town to town – the term, ‘geek,’ was used to describe a carnival performer who typically entertained audiences with something peculiar or “different.” For example, they may have bitten off the head of a live chicken or used a physical deformity to their advantage.

In ‘Geek Love,’ we meet Aloysius “Al” Binewski and his wife, “Crystal” Lil – a couple facing hard times with their business until they decide to create a freak show of their own. Al and Crystal start manipulating the genes of all their children with the help of an assortment of drugs and radioactive material.

As a result, the two produce:

  • Arturo (“Arty”) – born with flippers for hands and feet
  • Electra (“Elly”) and Iphigenia (“Iphy”) – Siamese twins
  • Olympia (“Oly”) – hunchback albino dwarf
  • Fortunato (“Chick”) – the most normal looking offspring with telekinetic powers

Throughout the entire novel, you encounter their life story, as told by Oly.

Just like any other family, the siblings fight, dream, and compete for attention. Jealousy often rears its ugly head. They also protect and love one another despite fleeting tinges of resentment. However, please take note that ‘Geek Love’ is shocking. There will be times that you’ll feel grossed out. You might shut the book in disgust, but quickly return to see how the brood rebound from tragedy and societal obstacles. The novel also tugs at the heartstrings.

I loved the book and wished it never ended. I may even read it for a second time and that’s something I rarely do.


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