A weekly post in which I reminisce over a backlist favorite.
I really struggled in my decision for this week’s post. I have so many backlist favorites, and I never realize this until I’m forced to pick just one to talk about. After much internal debate, this week’s backlist favorite is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.
Oh mylanta, I love this book. Love. It. And I have author Jennifer Weiner to thank for introducing it to me. Back in the day, and by this I mean way back in the mid-90s (does referring to the mid-90s as “way back” make me old?), shortly after discovering Weiner’s Good In Bed, I was keen to get my hands on anything she recommended (let’s be honest: I still do). And she was raving about Geek Love. I was able to find a copy at the used book store for $8 (why do I still remember this random tidbit of information?), and I dove into the world of the Binewskis as fast as I could.
How can I explain my love for this book in a way that makes sense? This family is crazy and creepy and evil and weird and yet also filled with a strange love for each other. It’s so dark and twisted, this story of a family of carnival “freaks” conceived and created by their parents for that specific reason: they wanted to breed oddities. And yet I couldn’t get enough of their story. Dunn seriously created a masterpiece when she created the Binewskis.
I have to be totally honest and admit that I’ve never re-read this book. Part of me really wants to revisit the family, but an even bigger part of me doesn’t want anything to tarnish or change the imagery and memories I have held on to since initially reading it. Let me tell you: #thestruggleisreal.
If you haven’t read Geek Love, I highly, highly recommend it. But I also recommend going into it with an open mind. Because it’s twisted. And cruel. But so, so beautiful.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.
As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.