Three years ago I saw a girl from my statistics class on the bus reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. As the quarter progressed and we became friendly, I realized she was a girl with unique interests and tastes... and she always complimented my tights. I haven't seen her in years but her book on the bus that day has been camping in the back of my mind.
Geek Love is one of those books that makes you wonder about the author. Like, what would it be like to have Dunn over for dinner? How is her house decorated? Does she have children? Because really, this book is messed up. And good. I mean, there's a reason it was a finalist for the National Book Award.
The Binewski family is the talent behind the famous Fabulon traveling carnival/freak show. Al Binewski orders his wife Lily on a regimented diet of drugs during pregnancy in order to expertly craft a child with deformities. In other words, the next showstopper. If the baby looks like a norm, the baby goes and the process repeats. You can see how the set up here boggles the mind.
The story is told through Olympia Binewski, an albino hunchback dwarf, as she looks back in time to muster the courage and explain her need to save her "orphaned" daughter. She plays back the events in her life that changed her safe and loving home into the nightmare of a fanatic cult devoted to her older brother Arty, who is without arms and legs and instead has finlike apendages.
It's sort of hard to explain. Let's call it... dysfunctional family with a fantasy carnival destructive twist.
Recommendation: Just go with it.