Geek Love–Katherine Dunn

I have to admit.   I almost forgot.  I started a new job, so have been getting up at 5:45 a.m.  Which, for those of you that know, is about 2 or 3 hours after I normally go to bed…so my brain has been a little swiss cheesey lately.  I hauled myself out of bed just now to tell you about Geek Love.

Jennifer Weiner listed Geek Love in her top ten.

I loved Geek Love.  It was a deep book, but flew by.  On the surface, it seems a surreal story, almost absurd in its premise.  The owner of a circus looks around and sees that his circus is failing.  His wife and he develop a plan.  A plan to breed freaks.  Lily, the mother, ingests all sorts of different drugs.  They have 5 children that live or that they let live.  The oldest is an amphibian boy.  The next two are siamese twins, girls, with the same body from the waist down.  The narrator is the 4th child, and she’s an albino dwarf.  The last child?  Chick?  He _looks_ normal, but so isn’t.The oldest, Arty, develops a cult when he gets older where people amputate all their limbs over a two or three year period, in worship of him and Arturism.  The whole thing ends up blowing up in their faces, leaving only the narrator and her daughter (who only had a tail so was dropped off at a convent orphanage).  The story switches from current time to twenty years in the past, when all the events happened.

As I said, seems a little absurd on the face of things.  But, to me, the story ended up being about families.  All families, and the interdependent relationships they have.  And how when there are fissures that are under the surface, the whole family can implode.

You find yourself feeling the tension between knowing _something_ happened but not knowing what happened.  The switching narration and the hints given by the narrator through that, give you the sense of tension.  Also, you just can feel that something has to happen.  That there’s something big.  But Dunn keeps you thinking the wrong thing, until suddenly she doesn’t.

If you like Chuck Pahlaniuk, you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

 

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