Like the Binewski's Carnival Fabulon, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn disturbs, shocks, and revolts. This is the story of the Binewski family, a family of purposely made freaks, told from Olympia's perspective, bouncing between her childhood in the traveling show to her adult life where she trails her grown-up daughter who isn't aware of her existence. Her daughter, Miranda, has a curly, foot-long tail.
Despite their appearances, the shocks and chills do not come from the Binewski children, except for the murdering, manipulative Arturo. Rather, it's the so-called "normal" people that make the reader gasp and cringe. While growing up in the carnival, Arty acquires a massive cult following. Known as Arturism, these people chop their limbs off, once piece at a time, until nothing but a torso remains. The limbs are then fed to the carnival tigers. As grown Olympia stalks her daughter, she meets Mary T. Lick, a wealthy woman interested in deformities. Eventually, Mary tells Olympia a secret: she pays attractive woman big money to mutilate themselves, like burning their skin away, sewing their vaginas shut, or removing their breasts.
While Dunn's descriptions are creepy, spot-on and poetic, this novel is far from perfect.
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