Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek LoveGeek Love by Katherine Dunn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oly is an albino hunchback dwarf, yet her deformities aren’t as desirable as her siblings’. She’s not as beautiful nor musically inclined as Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins. She’s not as charismatic and entertaining as Arty the Aquaboy, who has flippers instead of arms and legs. Yet she’s a member of the Binewski family, and that counts as something.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers)

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I was vaguely aware of this book prior to reading it, but I’m so very glad my beloved ladies of horror decided on it for a group read. My initial thoughts: what a vibrant cover, it couldn’t be that bad, surely? But it was that bad, and much, much more. I don’t want to give any false illusions, to say that it’s a story of love and family. Those two words bring with them a sense of comfort, of warmth and feel-good butterflies. But in reality, those butterflies have their legs plucked from their bodies, followed by their wings. And you know what? They like it. In other words, to describe this simply as disturbing is a gross understatement. It’s more than that, and it took me over a month to finish, because my mind needed periods of respite.

Character driven in a way many novels strive to be, it dealt with a variety of taboo subjects, oftentimes in a lighthearted, carefree and even a celebratory manner. Dunn didn’t hold back – she plunged right into the deep end with foetal abuse and manipulation. Despite Crystal Lil and Al being possibly the worse parents ever, they were portrayed as caring and loving individuals, even close to likeable. Let’s be clear though, every single character had distasteful qualities that ranged from weird to outright monstrous, but despite my logical, sane mind telling me I shouldn’t have liked those people, I did like them. I came to care for the twins and Chick especially.

I was affected many ways by Olympia’s narrative that spanned her childhood, possibly more than any book in my life. There was a tremendous amount of dread, for the sole reason that the family dynamic wasn’t just dysfunctional, it was fatal. I (the reader) was privy to the future, to the remnants of the Binewski clan, so I knew something terrible was going to transpire. All I could do was bear witness to a train-wreck while it simultaneously hurt my heart and made me cringe with discomfort.

Yes, I experienced a great deal of discomfort; mountains of it that weighed heavily on my state of mind. It revolved mostly around Arty, of whom was the villain I loved to hate. Words aren’t enough to describe how heinous Arty was, yet he was utterly brilliant in creation. He didn’t need to lift a flipper to hurt anybody, his weapon was his own intelligence. As an aspiring writer I can only dream to have the talent to construct a beast such as Arturo.

In conclusion: Writing this review was most difficult; I always have this problem in trying to convey my thoughts on something that meant so much to me. Geek Love stands as a masterpiece; a work of art that leaps past the boundaries of propriety.

Notable Quote:

Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion.

© Red Lace 2019

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10 thoughts on “Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

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  1. I love this review! I’m sad to say I haven’t read this yet, but I have heard similar reactions to the content from other reviewers. One of these days I’m going to carve out time to read it😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Geek Love has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I took note of your spoilers so I haven’t read all of the review, but the 5/5 makes me want to pull it off the shelf once I get through some of my “promises”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read this many years ago. It really affected me and my reading Though it was disturbing, I really loved the book. This is the first time I have ever seen it reviewed. One note; I did not care for the other Dunn books, just this one.
    Around the same time as I read this, I adopted an orange kitten with a damaged paw. I named him Artie, for Arturo, because I thought the foot might come off some day. { It did not.}

    Unrelated, but the next thing I read after this book was something similarly crazy: ‘Gojiro’, by Mark Jacobson.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t say any of Dunn’s other works sound appealing to me, and that’s a real shame. I’ll probably be forever in search of something akin to Geek Love.
      And KITTY! I’m glad his paw is still intact. Though, are you sure he doesn’t have a cult of other kitties lopping off their paws for him? I’d check, if I were you.
      And I’ll remember ‘Gojiro’. I do love the crazy.
      Thank you, I’m glad I brought you some nostalgia. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of my absolute favorite reads. I know it’s selfish to say, but I wish Katherine Dunn had written more of this stylized fiction. I know it’s not her forte, but for me, it’s a rich story of absolutely weirdness! Thank you for the lovely read down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

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