Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book Report: Geek Love

"There are those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behavior and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity. These are frequently artists and performers, adventures and wide-life devotees.

"Then there are those who feel their own strangeness and are terrified by it. They struggle toward normalcy. They suffer to exactly that degree that they are unable to appear normal to others, or to convince themselves that their aberration does not exist. These are true freaks, who appear, almost always, conventional and dull."

--Arturo Binewski in Geek Love

I just finished reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It's the tale of the Binewskis, a carefully crafted carny family. And by crafted, I mean bred. In order to ensure crowd pleasing curiosities, Al and Crystal Lil experimented with narcotics, pesticides, and radioisotopes during each of her pregnancies producing their clan of four remarkable children: Arturo, with flippers where his arms and legs should be; Electra and Iphigenia, the Siamese twins; Olympia, a bald albino hunchback; and Fotunato, whose outward normalcy nearly landed him abandoned on a stranger's doorstep before his telekinetic powers were discovered. Oly, with her relatively minor abnormalities, is the family's disappointment, and the story's narrator.

Not surprisingly, two people capable of intentionally deforming their unborn children are also capable of turning infants into fucked up adolescents. The dysfunction is high and the sibling rivalry epic.

Ultimately, Geek Love is a story about the desire to be unique and the simultaneous desperation to fit in. It might have been good, but I was too distracted by the abysmal parenting to notice. I don't regret the time I spent reading it, but I'll return it to the library tomorrow and will not be particularly saddened by the sound of its flat slap against the metal book bin.

And so, this concludes the first book club book I've ever actually finished. Thank you, fellow Prose Hos, for being too busy to read even a short novel in under two months. You are my kind of book club.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Siamese twins actually count as two children...

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