New Theme: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

While I've anticipated writing about Geek Love for quite a long time, I'm upset at the circumstances surrounding its discussion. It's all my fault. I kept telling myself "I have time to finish Watchmen. The film doesn't come out till March." Then I said, "I can finish it the week before the film and write about it." Then I realized, "Oh crap. Everyone is going to write about Watchmen next week. Better stay up to finish it." And then I just woke up realizing I fell asleep plowing through it last night. Meaning my Watchmen week is happening the week of the film, rather than the week before. At least I can discuss the film that Saturday, as I'll be seeing the film opening day with my brother. And possibly opening night with friends if it isn't awful. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Part 1 I'll come right out and say it: Geek Love might be my favorite novel of all time. It's certainly in the top 3, with Hard Times by Dickens and The Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber. Take my personal taste for what it's worth. I like offbeat literature and I'm not afraid to say it. Novels don't get much stranger than Katherine Dunn's masterful Geek Love. Following the life of Oly, a genetically engineered albino hunchback considered too normal by her side show family, Dunn unfolds a story oozing with dark humor and genuine shocks. I think an excerpt better establishes the tone:

"When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing. 'Spread your lips, sweet Lil,' they'd cluck, 'and show us your choppers!'"

Fear not the spoilers, as this is the opening paragraph of the novel. That's tame compared to almost everything that follows. Like descriptions of "Crystal" Lil's current medical state after being treated with various drugs and chemicals during pregnancy to build a family side show. Or Oly's brother Arty, who attempts to form a cult celebrating his fins and flippers. Or Ella and Iphy, conjoined twins and piano experts. Or little "Chick," who was cursed by being born with no physical deformities. Or even the twisted plots of the father, Al Binewski, who wants nothing more than to make the sideshow a profitable family affair. I'm linking to a series of quotations from Katherine Dunn to finish this post. While not everything is applicable to Geek Love, you should gain a pretty good understanding of her style and interests expressed in her books. This week will have some interesting turns, and possibly multiple posts on Saturday to better mine the territory connected to Geek Love.

Labels: geek love, katherine dunn