It’s been a while since I’ve read a book as captivating, disturbing, touching and as brilliant as Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say this is my favourite book, or at least definitely up there in my top three.
The following description which was on the back of the book is pretty accurate:
“So monumentally tasteless that it ought to have a sick bag incorporated into its jacket design. It is also hilarious, vital and original…mesmerising, chilling and curiously uplifting – the brilliant product of a brilliant imagination.“
Following the life of the eclectic Binewski family travelling circus, the book is narrated by Olympia, a bald, hunchbacked albino dwarf forever living in the shadow of her more ‘gifted’ siblings. Split into an interweaving past and present narrative, Olympia describes the demise of her truly unique family, including Arturo the Aqua Boy, who has flippers instead of limbs and a terrifyingly controlling disposition, Electra & Iphigenia, siamese twins who play the piano, and finally Fortunato, her youngest brother capable of telekinetic powers.
Olympia struggles with her development in the chaotic setting of the circus, her mother Crystal Lil losing touch with reality day by day due to the number of substances she gobbles, a habit stemming from her first pregnancy when she decided with husband Al that they would create their own circus acts. Shunned by her sisters and out of touch with normality Olympia forms a deeply troubling relationship with her brother Arturo, which although twisted is the closest thing to affection and friendship she will ever receive.
Tracing the life of the circus and its inhabitants, this is a compelling tale so outlandish it makes you wonder how the idea was ever conceived. Illustrating the darker elements of human nature but also the innate goodness that exists within, Geek Love is a truly magnificent book, one of a kind.