I've always been pretty ravenous about pop culture, highbrow and lowbrow. - St. Vincent
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Geek Love, a great premise, started the wave of Carny fiction
That said, I recently made it through a relatively gargantuan modern fiction classic (from 1989) by Katherine Dunn, which took her many years to write while living in Portland.
Geek Love, a National Book Award finalist, was a trailblazer at the time and set the course for all kinds of freak-show entertainment that has followed, from Rob Zombie's filmography to the Jim Rose Circus to American Horror Story to Stephen King's It.
The premise is the best thing about the book: A man and woman (Al and Crystal Lil Binewski) run a circus that has fallen on hard times. In order to take them to the top, they agree that Lil will start taking drugs in order to deform a whole slate of babies they plan to produce. That way they'll have the best freak show (or call it "geek" show) in the land.
The whole thing is fascinating, but it drags on far too long. There is way too much descriptive language and Geek Love is easily a quarter-too-long. But a great premise takes it far, and it luckily played a major role in starting a horrifying genre that is tough to get enough of, at least for me.
4 out of 5 stars
And check out this great feature from WIRED about the cult of Geek Love lovers.
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