Book 40 of my 2014 Reading Challenge
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Summary (via 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 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.
This book defies description so I'm not even going to try.
After reading the first chapter I had a feeling of 'uh oh, what have I gotten myself into?' but after it moved from the present into the first flashbacks (the book is mostly told in first person from Oly's perspective), I settled in for the ride and ended up finding it very readable and interesting.
The flashbacks sucked me in but the story lines in the 'present' sections felt forced to me and I didn't enjoy them as much.
Much like the carnival the story is set in, the book is weird and uncomfortable but impossible to look away from.
Quote from the Book
"This fragile, flammable heap is all that's left of my life."