Geek Love

“A carnival in daylight is an unfinished beast, anyway. Rain makes it a ghost. The wheezing music from the empty, motionless rides in a soggy, rained-out afternoon midway always hits my chest with a sweet ache. The colored dance of the lights in the seeping air flashed the puddles in the sawdust with an oily glamour.”

“The sky above Molalla was aching blue but I walked from Arty’s tent to our van in the same air I’d sucked all my life. It was a Binewski blend of lube grease, dust, popcorn, and hot sugar. We made that air and we carried it with us. The Fabulons light was the same in Arkansas as in Idaho – the patented electric dance step of the Binewskis. We made it. Like the mucoid nubbin that spins a shell called ‘oyster’, we Binewskis wove a midway shelter called ‘carnival’.”

What is a geek?
For me, the TV series Big Bang Theory pretty much sums it up. And that’s what I kind of imagined this book to be – a relationship between nerds, or perhaps a love story between a erm, non-nerd and a nerd. Or something along those lines.
And then I read Geek Love and I realised that ‘geek’ has another meaning – a carnival performer. And in the end, while I was completely thrown off at the beginning, I too was all about the geek love.

That Katherine Dunn. What an imagination. What a crazy, messed up world she has conjured up.

There’s Crystal Lil, the “star-haired mama”. And Aloysius Binewski or Al or Papa, who inherits the traveling carnival he was raised in and lands on that brilliant idea of breeding his own freak show. How? With drugs, insecticides and radioisotopes.

They begin with Arturo/Arty/Aqua Boy, whose hands and feet are flippers. A fascinating, evil  genius kind of character.

Electra and Iphigenia, Siamese twins sharing one set of hips and legs. Completely absorbed in themselves.

Then Olympia/Oly, our narrator, a disappointment with her “commonplace deformities” – a bald albino hunchbacked dwarf. A bit of a pushover. Utterly devoted to Arty.

Then Fortunato/Chick, who looks normal but later reveals his own specialty. Innocent, sweet.

By this point you’re either completely turned off or intrigued. At least that’s what the reviews on Goodreads seem to suggest.

And for me, it was just complete absorption into this bizarro, freaky world. I mean, what a cast (and these are just the main ones), what a show!


3 thoughts on “Geek Love

  1. I don’t remember much about this book, other than the feeling that my mouth was slightly agape for much of it. Loved it though! (By the way, have you seen the TV series “Freaks and Geeks”?)


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