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Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
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Geek Love (original 1989; edition 1989)

by Katherine Dunn

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4,4211081,108 (4.03)225
Member:varielle
Title:Geek Love
Authors:Katherine Dunn
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1989), Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Fiction

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Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (1989)

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English (106)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
A genuinely bonkers novel about a family of deliberately engineered sideshow freaks (their mother experiments with various booze, drugs, poisons and radiation during each pregnancy). Once you settle into the crazy world that Dunn has created the story whips you along - the flawed siblings (an albino hunchback dwarf, a limbless flipper boy, siamese twins and a telekinetic toddler) lives are vivid and shocking, the megalomania of Arturo astounding and the twists and turns simply incredible. Dunn has lots to say about family and fitting in, about beauty, 'normality', and spectacle. It's unsettling, thought-provoking, hilarious and terrifying in roughly equal measures. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
What a CRAZY book! I happened upon this book on a "If you liked...then try..."site. It told me that if I had liked American Horror Story: Freak Show, then I should read this book by Dunn.

Al and Lil actually try to procreate freaks, called "geeks" in the book. Lil takes all kinds of substances while pregnant to ensure their children are not "norms". Aside from the ones who don't make it, kept for posterity in jars in "the chute", they are pretty successful.

As a fan of the 1932 movie "Freaks" by Tod Browning, I was not surprised or horrified by anything I read here. Freaks are so on the outside, but are human beings on the inside. The juxtaposition of "norms" who manipulate and kill (like Dr. P in the book) with the "freaks" who only want to be accepted (like our narrator) is a common theme in tales like this one.

However, Arty the Aqua Boy was a freak of a freak. The perfect antagonist, he reeked of jealousy, narcissism and yes, a little bit of an incestuous bent. His fierce competition with his Siamese twin sisters for the box office could have been comical if it were not so intense. His loathing for those who came to see him drove him to push them father than I am sure anyone thought they would go.

The one item I had trouble buying was the rise of Arty's control. You will, of course, have to read the book; but he gains control at an age and rate that is unbelievable, even for a story of freaks. Al was a "man's man", and had firm control of the business. However, when Arty started to take over, there was no wrangling at all. That would have made for an interesting dynamic in the relationship of father/son that was missing.

The other characters were interesting and well-drawn. I particularly liked Mary Lick and would have liked to have read more of her.

All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable and fast read. However, I don't see the hubbub of other reviewers in citing this book as trailblazing or groundbreaking. It was a nice, fun read which was well-written and could have used about 100 more pages.

Recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
I was not prepared for this book. The family relationships were altogether disturbing, not to mention the physical appearance of Arturo, which I still can't quite picture, and the cult practices that develop around him.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2015 | Task 30: Published the year you were born (1989) ( )
  Bodagirl | Dec 29, 2015 |
Very strange book! Freak show owners keep losing talent, so they decide to make their own, using various combinations of substances during pregnancy to induce unique specimens. The viable results include "Aquaboy", the main attraction, with flippers for limbs and female Siamese twins. Their other daughter, an albino humpback dwarf, is considered less interesting. They have such a twisted sense of values that a "norm" child is useless and totally unwanted by them. They do produce a seemingly norm baby, that has telekinetic powers, thus possibly worth keeping. Adding to the bizarre story is an amputee cult, aided by a doctor on the freak show staff who performs surgery to transform the cult members in various steps culminating in amputation of both arms and legs. The story is frightenly fascinating, compelling the reader to discover what happens next. Certainly not for everyone, an interesting book that explores the concepts of what is normal and judging people on physical attributes. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
Very strange book! Freak show owners keep losing talent, so they decide to make their own, using various combinations of substances during pregnancy to induce unique specimens. The viable results include "Aquaboy", the main attraction, with flippers for limbs and female Siamese twins. Their other daughter, an albino humpback dwarf, is considered less interesting. They have such a twisted sense of values that a "norm" child is useless and totally unwanted by them. They do produce a seemingly norm baby, that has telekinetic powers, thus possibly worth keeping. Adding to the bizarre story is an amputee cult, aided by a doctor on the freak show staff who performs surgery to transform the cult members in various steps culminating in amputation of both arms and legs. The story is frightenly fascinating, compelling the reader to discover what happens next. Certainly not for everyone, an interesting book that explores the concepts of what is normal and judging people on physical attributes. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Als untalentiertestes von fünf Wunderkindern aufzuwachsen ist nicht leicht. Als kleinwüchsige, bucklige Albina das gewöhnlichste von fünf Kindern zu sein, ist wohl mehr als nur „nicht leicht“. Binewskis. Zerfall einer radioaktiven Familie ist nicht nur die Geschichte einer Familie, die sich spektakulär von innen heraus zersetzt, sondern ein Roman, der ganz unauffällig wichtige Fragen an die moderne Gesellschaft stellt.
 
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Epigraph
This thing of darkness I Acknowledge mine.
—Prospero, The Tempest 5.1.275–6
Dedication
For Eli Malachy Dunn Dapolonia
First words
"When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing."
Quotations
It’s interesting that when these individuals choose--and it is their choice always--to endure voluntary amputations for their own personal benefit, society professes itself shocked and disapproving. Yet this same society respects the concept that any individual should risk total annihilation in war, subject to the judgment of any superior officer at all and for the purposes ranging from a promotion for the lieutenant to higher profits for the bullet company. Hell, they don’t just respect that idea, they flat expect it. And they’ll shoot your ass if you don’t go along with it. (Arty)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375713344, Paperback)

A wild, often horrifying, novel about freaks, geeks and other aberrancies of the human condition who travel together (a whole family of them) as a circus. It's a solipsistic funhouse world that makes "normal" people seem bland and pitiful. Arturo the Aqua-Boy, who has flippers and an enormous need to be loved. A museum of sacred monsters that didn't make it. An endearing "little beetle" of a heroine. Sort of like Tod Browning's Freaks crossed with David Lynch and John Irving and perhaps George Eliot -- the latter for the power of the emotions evoked.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Aloysious and Lillian Binewski, proprietors of a traveling carnival, attempt to reduce overhead by breeding their own freak show, with tragic results.

(summary from another edition)

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