Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek LoveTo save their traveling carnival, Al and “Crystal Lil” Binewski experiment with drugs and radioactivity during Lil’s pregnancies to chemically breed their children into their own “freaks”. They do not see the harm in doing this. Mrs. Binewski compares her children to beautiful hybrid roses. As a result, Olympia Binewski, a bald albino hunchback dwarf, and her equally unique siblings are forced to go through life as carnival attractions, both admired and abhorred by society.

Five children make up the Binewski Fabulon. Arturo (the Aqua Boy) is missing limbs. Through manipulation, Arturo creates a cult following of people who have their own limbs removed so that they too will be special. Elly and Iphy are Siamese twins who are naive and pretty. The baby of the family is Chick, who appears normal, but has telekinetic powers. Geek Love is told from Olympia’s viewpoint.

The book’s graphic scenes and dark humor may not be for everyone. This National Book Award finalist, while tragic, is also very humorous and the plot is so fantastical that the book is a treat to read.  Katherine Dunn’s thoughtful and humanistic view of life outside of society’s accepted norm will leave readers thinking that there just may be a little freak in all of us. Those who liked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman or fans of author Chuck Palahniuk may like this book.

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