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Sunday, 12 January 2020

GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've been wanting to read since I found a copy during one of our (many) thrift store adventures last year.

And I'm so glad I decided to pick it up this week.

The Binewski clan are a family of carnival folk who travel across the country performing for a large audience. They consist of the parents Al and Lil, who purposely experimented with a bunch of pseudo-science treatments and ended up having a bunch of 'extraordinary' children: Arty the Aqua Boy, Iphy and Elly the musically-talented Siamese twins, Oly is a dwarf albino with a hunchback, and Chick the norm with telekinetic tendencies.

As the kids get older and the carnival grows in popularity, so does the insanity...

Wow. What a story! I was often frustrated, intrigued, disturbed, even disgusted. But the one common thread was this: I couldn't stop reading.

I was hooked all the way through. It's such an addictive story that no matter how depraved things got, all I wanted to do was turn the page. When I reached the end of a chapter I told myself I'd read one more and instead ended up reading until the next part.

The story is told in two different timelines by Oly. Everything starts in the now and weaves back into the very twisted past of the most dysfunctional family ever. They were like a freaky version of The Partridge Family and an even darker The Addams Family, with a bloody twist of Cronenberg.

I kid you not. There's nothing I could say that would capture the true and very horrific essence of this epic tale without delving into a bunch of spoilers. And I certainly don't want to do that because the less you know about the more shocking bits about this book, the better you'll be when you find yourself totally off-balance by what you're reading. 😳

One of my favourite things about this story is the characters. Oly's the main narrator and her voice is strong if not foolhardy. Some of the things she does and condones are awful, and are all because of her blind devotion to her older brother. But her heart is in the right place. And Arty. This fucking douche was aggravating and so vile. He made me so angry I wanted to scream. Ugh.

Another very cool thing was how being normal is treated like the real disability. This family wasn't just happy with their freakiness, they looked down on others if they were norms. It was such a strange and refreshing take.

Geek Love is one of the most horrible stories I've read. It's bizarre and drops you down the abyss of weirdo so far and fast you never quite get your footing. Or know what to expect. It's unpredictable, shocking, gross, cruel and definitely one of the best books I've ever read.

I seriously loved every single minute I spent reading this book. I'm a sucker for oddities, so this was right up my alley.

This one's a keeper!


View all my reviews


ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Geek Love is a book that I kept hearing about last year. So I assumed it was released in 2019.

When I found a copy in one of our fave thrift stores, I was so excited.

It wasn't until late December, when I was picking out a pile of books to read in January, that I realised it was an older book. One that was published in 1989! This just added to the allure because I knew that a story about freaks written in the 70s or 80s would not hold back. And I was right. Yikes!

This book dares to go to some pretty horrid and dark places. Pushes the boundaries in every way, and manages to turn the world as we know it upside down.

I enjoyed every minute of it, which was the best bit. No matter how screwed up things got, or how fucked up the characters were, I couldn't look away! Refused to stop reading.

And when I wasn't reading, I was checking out the cool artwork and different covers made for this book.

Also, it made me miss Oddities. That was one cool show!

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