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US of Books Tour - Geek Love by Katherine Dunn **review by Serena M. Agusto-Cox**
Entertainment Weekly chose Geek Love for Oregon. The
magazine said, "A twisted couple populate their freak show with their
own children in this modern classic. It's weird, carnivalesque, and
unnerving: not unlike Portland on a given night. Need more? Kurt Cobain
was a fan."
Source: Audible Audiobook, 15+ hours
by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, is a family saga of
love, obsession, and revenge among the freaks at the Binewski traveling
show. In many ways this novel reminded me of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Al and Lil populate the show with their own children, those they have
disfigured by ensuring Lil drinks and subjects herself to all manner of
poisons, insecticides, and other torturous devices. Their efforts to
save the traveling carnival from bankruptcy requires more than
traditional dwarfs and extraordinarily tall men and women. The Binewskis
have concluded that the rise of basketball and other entertainments
have made these traditional freak show
of this is narrated by Oly, an albino hunchback, as she recalls the
past and her brother Arturo the Aquaboy, who became so consumed with
jealousy, that he would do anything to be on top and take over the
carnival from his father. Oly, despite being a hunchback, is on the
outside of the clan, and she's treated more as a servant than a family
member, even by the brother she loves beyond all reason. While her
relatives seek to get by under Arturo's reign or escape it, Oly seeks to
bind herself to him in the only way she knows.
examines the love inside an family of freaks, but it really could apply
to any family, especially if jealousies are allowed free reign and grow
out of control. What's interesting is how much Oly is unlike her family
in that she sees the "norms" as not something to be despised, but as
something that could be loved. Her transformation and distance from her
family is complete later on in the novel when she gives birth.
Moore does an admirable job with the narration, and it is easy to
follow each character. However, the setting in Oregon is not
front-and-center and many times, readers will forget that the carnival
is even in the state, particularly when other cities in other states are
more frequently mentioned like Spokane. Geek Love
by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, takes a while to get
used to, and there is some very strong language and sexual content that
some readers would not prefer. Overall, the novel was just plain odd.
RATING: Tercet (3 stars)
About the Author:
Katherine Dunn is best known
for her beloved novel "Geek Love," which was a finalist for the
National Book Award in 1989. She is also the author of the novels
"Attic" (1970) and "Truck" (1971). A fourth novel, entitled "The Cut
Man," has been in-progress for decades and was purportedly scheduled for
a September 2008 release.
Dunn is also known as a prolific sports journalist in the field of boxing, and has written several articles on the subject.