geek love by Katherine Dunn

this is by far one of the best books i’ve read of all time, ever. it is a fantabulous buffet of imagery and story. it is a beautiful book, and i am stunned by her work. I’m off to go find more Dunn books on

the story is of a family of traveling carnival freaks, but the twists that the book explores go far beyond typical carnie life. The children are intentionally produced with genetic abnormalities brought on by various toxic substances the mother ingests during pregnancy. The resulting children are empowered by their oddity and revel in their uniqueness. Arty, the eldest, inadvertently creates a cult sect that amputates limbs in order to achieve his cocky high self esteem. he preaches that in being like him, you leave behind the hurt of the world. his followers in a way take over the carnival and turn it into a traveling cult. this older brother manipulates the rest of the family, who adore him totally and follow his every whim. eventually, his ill thought out schemes destroys their world, leaving the narrator struggling to save her daughter from a change that would deprive herself of her unique genetic gift from the family.

The story itself is fascinating… it is utterly intriguing to meet the characters and see what events they face in their familiarly odd little world. but the book goes beyond that, and is nearly painful to read, haunting in its humanity, and the need we have to love and be loved.