Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Geek Love” as Want to Read:
Geek Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Geek Love

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  65,158 ratings  ·  6,402 reviews
Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback O ...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published 2015 by Abacus (first published March 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Geek Love, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Danielle D I found the book captivating almost immediately.
You don't find the story line unique and dark?
If it is not pulling at your heart strings yet, it prob…more
I found the book captivating almost immediately.
You don't find the story line unique and dark?
If it is not pulling at your heart strings yet, it probably won't (less)
Susan Hall I am currently reading this very dark, disturbing book. Actually I am almost finished. Talk about sick to my stomach, but I can't stop reading. …moreI am currently reading this very dark, disturbing book. Actually I am almost finished. Talk about sick to my stomach, but I can't stop reading. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  65,158 ratings  ·  6,402 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Geek Love
Joey
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Warning: this review contains spoilers. Read or don’t read it accordingly.

I had a schizophrenic reaction to this book. On the one hand, it had a more profound impact on me than books—even some truly great ones—usually do. On the other hand, I thought it was sloppily edited, and Dunn’s prose ran the spectrum from sublime to clunky and ridiculous.

The good:

Geek Love has a handful of the most memorable characters you’ll ever find. Arturo the Aqua Boy is deftly handled, a megalomaniacal little tur
...more
Will Byrnes
They thought to use and shame me but I win out by nature, because a true freak cannot be made. A true freak must be born.
Geek Love is an amazing book, audacious, moving, beautiful, substantive, creepy, upsetting, tragic and dark.

So you think of yourself as different, an outsider, a freak in one way or another? Well, maybe you are, but your differences would likely fade were you to compare yourself to most of the characters in this best-selling novel from Katherine Dunn, so best-selling in f
...more
Mario the lone bookwolf (is on a longer vacation)
The circus of life can be a terrifying horror freakshow too

This on one of the greatest, weirdest, and definitively not for the faint of hearth novels with so many passages I still remember years after reading it, which is always a very good sign that the stuff was good and of high quality, (view spoiler)
...more
Meredith Holley
Jul 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: loonies
Recommended to Meredith by: Lokailani Alabanza and Matt Leisy
"Whenever you read a good book, it's like the author is right there, in the room, talking to you, which is why I don't like to read good books." - Jack Handey

This is one of the only books I plan never to finish. I thought the writing was beautiful, and I don't even know that I would say it was badly edited (a comment I read in another review), but I hated all of the characters. I loathed them by the time I stopped reading. I even hated Chick a little bit. I skipped some and glanced at the end to
...more
Jason
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-kindle, 2011, reviewed
WTF?!

On the surface, Geek Love has it all: jealousy, betrayal, sexual objectification, and murderous revenge. It’s got a whole shitload of family drama topped off with a generous helping of physical deformities and possibly, possibly, a side of incest. (That part’s not too clear, though.) The problem is, once you get past the shock value of wanting to fuck your brother who also happens to look like a giant fish, there really isn’t much going on here.

Right before starting this book, I read Middle
...more
James
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not the weak of heart
This book was as good as I heard it would and better. I love weird characters and twisted plot lines, but this went so far that it made me very uncomfortable. And I love the book for that.

The plot is simple and sick enough: Al and Lil Binewski, a young couple madly in love and struggling to save Al's family business, a traveling carnival fabulon, devise a plan to keep themselves from going under. Al, with Lil's eager permission, exposes his wife to radiation, presciptions, and whatever else may
...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

It's a snow day today and since my tiny humans are to the point where my snow days are numbered since they aren't so tiny any longer I decided to stay home with them in order to read porn make cookies and hot cocoa and scream loving things out the front door like "IT'S 10 DEGRESS OUTSIDE - GET YOUR ASSES BACK IN HERE BEFORE YOU FREEZE TO DEATH!" But then I realized this book would be expiring from my Kindle in like a minute and a half
...more
Barry Pierce
If David Lynch wrote a novel, this would be it. This novel is repugnant, disgusting, and baffling. I loved it. Who'd have thought that a book narrated by a bald female hunchbacked albino dwarf would be so beautiful? The trials and tribulations of the Binewski family are shocking and sickening but yet you feel a strange attraction to this family of freaks. This is one of the most original novels I've ever read, I will never come across anything like this ever again. Reading "Geek Love" is an expe ...more
Richard Derus
Book Circle Reads 26

Close to the top of any literature lover's life list of lovely books.

Well, now, upon more than a decade's passing, I can't say I agree with myself here.


Rating: 3.25* of five

The Book Description: Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition w
...more
Chris
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
If the world is a carnival, then we were all born to be its freaks. After all, when each of us arrived on the scene, naked and covered in blood and goo, we were unique specimens. But soon after our births, a member of The Cult of Normalcy gave us a pamphlet and offered us the opportunity to blend in with the rest of society. Most of us accepted the offer. Loneliness is a scary thing, after all. So here we are trying to live our lives like everyone else, constantly checking the mirror to make sur ...more
Paul Bryant
Apr 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Moderato. Lightly strummed guitar. Two backup singers who constantly refrain

Sweet sweet, the freaks that you gave to me
You can’t beat the geeks that you gave to me


A handsome tuxedo-wearing guy sings

Take one set of Siamese twins
Add a boy with only fins
No legs, no arms, he swims, he charms
Memories are made of this

Then add some pesticide
Just a sprinkle of infanticide
Incest and twin sex for the flavor
Should you be hard to please
Voluntary amputees
Will give you plenty to savor

Add a dwarfish hunchbacke
...more
Lynx
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction, own
"A true freak cannot be made. A true freak must be born."

When times were looking tough, Al and Lil Binewski used their ingenuity, along with some poisons and chemicals, to come up with a way to keep their traveling Carnival alive, breed their own main attractions. First came Arturo, born with flippers for limbs, better known as Arty the Aqua Boy. Then Iphy and Elly, conjoined at the waist who draw in the crowds with their song and dance numbers. Next was Olympia the albino hunchback dwarf, not s
...more
Laurie
I’ve read this book numerous times. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever reread, never mind more than once! This time around I read it on unabridged audio which made the story all the more intimate for me. I also buddy read it with a great group of reading friends. We don’t always agree on books (see my Ghost Story review for more on that) but this time we all LOVED it. Whew, I was so relieved because I’ve been pushing this book on everyone for years and sometimes people do not like it. At all. ...more
Vanessa
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one that has sat on my shelf for several years, and I honestly have no idea why I didn't pick it up for so long. Geek Love is a fantastically interesting novel, with a real focus on character development for the Binewski family, who live in a travelling carnival. The parents have 4 children, and during pregnancy their mother experiments with drugs, alcohol, pesticides, etc. so that her children can be born with various disabilities and deformities that will allow them to bring money ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sometimes the universe just wants you to read a book. A few months ago, Wired Magazine ran a feature on Geek Love at 25, an anniversary reflection of sorts. I'm not sure if that is why my book-club cohort picked the book or if it was just in the air for another reason, but not long after, it became the official pick for May.

The article points out that this was an important book cover design for Chip Kidd, who went on to become the best known book cover designer of recent times.

I'd seen this bo
...more
Bonnie
4 ½ stars

Any book that was written in the early ‘80’s and is still worth reading today, is almost by definition, a semi-classic; though cult-horror classic might be closer to the mark for Geek Love. That’s right: this is not your run-of-the-mill beach novel. I will not be placing this book on my list of Best Ten Novels of the 20th Century; but I’m sure there are others who will, and I have no basic argument with them. Geek Love is bizarre, but only on the surface. Fundamentally, this is a solid
...more
Misty Marie Harms
Jan 16, 2022 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Who told me to read this book? We can't be friends anymore 😂 Real friends don't let you read one-star books 😤

...more
Wayne Barrett
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, horror, fantasy

“They thought to use and shame me but I win out by nature, because a true freak cannot be made. A true freak must be born.” ~Katherine Dunn

I loved this book.

For some reason this was one of those that I kept putting off because it didn't sound interesting,but now I know I was missing out on a great story.

This was such a unique view of a family of freaks who are born, live and die as part of the carnival circuit. Mother and father with their living children, the Siamese twins, Oly, the albino hu
...more
Howard
Like a collaboration between John Irving and David Lynch, this audaciously conceived, sometimes shocking tale of love and hubris in a carnival family exerts the same mesmeric fascination as the freaks it depicts, despite essential structural flaws. In language as original and fantastic as her story, Dunn (Attic, 1970; Truck, 1971) tells the tale of Binewski's Carnival Fabulon, an unremarkable traveling show until patriarch Aloysius decides to breed his own freaks. Using drugs, insecticides and r ...more
Vonia
This is going to be a relatively unorganized review because there is seriously so much going on in this book. Mixed feelings, complex ideas, great characters (although many hateable ones), and, frankly, it is screwed up.

A book about cult followings with a cult following. To me, a cult following is a group of individuals who are passionately enamored with a work of art and culture, such as a book or show (i.e. The Binewski's Carnival, especially Arturo's philosophies). It is a relatively small b
...more
Candace Whitney Morris
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Palanuik fans
What is with Portland? Oregon brews these freakish, fantastical authors - fascinated with the off color beauty of the grotesque. Not to say that both Palahniuk and Dunn are not genius's, but it's weird man. Weirdly coincidental.

So anyway, Geek Love is about this family of carnies (carnival workers - to the less colloquially gifted) that decides to chemically engineer their children. The wife takes arsenic and radioisotopes while pregnant, and the result is a family of freaks. One has fins, one i
...more
Laurie
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fans
Shelves: horror, favorites
I just realized I never added my favorite book of all time to my GR shelf. Don't expect a review though because my memory for details is shit. Only major plot spoilers stick in my head. I've read it twice and will read it again and review it then. You should read it. That's all I'm saying. ...more
Jennifer
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have copied the lyrics of the following: My review is after them for a reason.

*****Emerson, Lake and Palmer
*****Karn Evil 9 Lyrics
*****from Brain Salad Surgery
*****"Karn Evil 9" is track #5 on the album Brain Salad Surgery.


Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind a glass is a real blade of grass
be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!

Come inside, the show's about to start
guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest
...more
Charity
Aug 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zoeytron
This is a horrifying look between the tent flaps of a traveling carnival known as Binewski's Fabulon. Al and Crystal Lil Binewski have a grotesque way of growing your own. Freaks, that is.

A horrific premise and disturbing ideas make for a very different read. Be forewarned, this one is way dark.
...more
Ferdy
Spoilers

A fucked up, incestuous, surreal carnival story filled with horrible characters who have little to no redeeming qualities. I spent most of my time cringing and shuddering in revulsion whilst reading Geek Love, but in a can't-look-away-car-crash-what's-going-to-happen-next-these-characters-make-me-sick-but-every-disturbing-thing-they-do-is-oh-so-engrossing kind of way. It was utterly absorbing in its WTFery and uniqueness.

Hmm, not really sure where to start with the story so I'll just ta
...more
Michelle F


Well.

I sure read this.

I'm not entirely positive how I feel about that; even months later. Sure, I can say that, like everyone else. I certainly found this book to be a teetering pile of bonkers but...beyond that, I'm just not certain I'm hip enough to wholly embrace this somewhat experimental shock drama.

A family piece – told in two time frames from the perspective of an albino hunchback – about the Geek-filled Binewski family and their traveling Fabulon Carnival. Geek Love tells the dark tale o
...more
Maciek
I had Geek Love sitting on my shelf for three years. I got it on May 30th of 2010 when the library of the university I've been attending was having a clearance. This book was among the pile I took home with me. It still had its library card attached, and from it I discovered that it was donated to the library on 23/04/1996 and that the last time anyone checked it out was on 25/04/2001. I could understand the library casting it slept on the shelf for nine years, but it wouldn't stop me from givin ...more
Steven
Aug 09, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Astonishing, bizarre, darkly funny and utterly devastating. You don't come across novels like this often. In fact, when can I say I've read something narrated by a bald albino hunchback dwarf before? Never is the answer. So already I knew it's going to be different, and along with Arty the Aqua Boy, the conjoined twins Electra and Iphigenia, and the telekinetic Chick, my fascination went into overdrive here. These are the champs so to speak, the crowd pullers in a world of sword swallowers and t
...more
Jennifer
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tugged at every emotion I have. Laughter and tears were in the lead during most of the book, but in the end frustration won. I was so frustrated with how amazing this book could have been. It was on the verge of greatness and fell short. While frustration did win in the long run, I must admit immediately after reading the last page, I curled up in a ball and sobbed, wondering how I could go on in life after what happened to these people that don't exist. It took me a couple of days to ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Vampires, Weres a...: Horror: Geek Love 17 19 Jul 09, 2021 04:53AM  
Challenges from E...: Bonus: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn 1 4 Jan 12, 2021 08:56PM  
Reading with E.: Reading with E. - February: GEEK LOVE! 97 55 Mar 18, 2018 07:31AM  
Reading with E.: GEEK LOVE Spoiler Discussion 13 46 Mar 05, 2018 08:56AM  
Open Books West L...: Geek Love - April 2017 1 10 May 09, 2017 07:02PM  
The Next Best Boo...: Geek Love 24 294 Mar 08, 2017 05:40AM  
Still Buffering: Geek Love 1 23 Oct 31, 2016 08:24PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins
  • The Bachman Books
  • The Killer Inside Me
  • Crash
  • Apt Pupil
  • The Zombie Room
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Room
  • Brave New World
  • Well
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • In the Cage
  • I Miss The World
  • Gone to See the River Man
  • Suicide Casanova
  • Making Hearts
  • Welcome to Our Hillbrow
See similar books…
See top shelves…
1,121 followers
Katherine Dunn was a novelist and boxing journalist who lived and worked in Oregon. She is the author of the three novels: Attic; Truck; and Geek Love. This, her most well-known work, was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Bram Stoker Prize for horror fiction. She also authored the essay collection One Ring Circus. She died in 2016.

Related Articles

The common problem of "too many books, too little time" can reach truly dire proportions when you work on the Goodreads editorial team. After...
36 likes · 5 comments
“The truth is always an insult or a joke, lies are generally tastier. We love them. The nature of lies is to please. Truth has no concern for anyone's comfort” 441 likes
“Can you be happy with the movies, and the ads, and the clothes in the stores, and the doctors, and the eyes as you walk down the street all telling you there is something wrong with you? No. You cannot be happy. Because, you poor darling baby, you believe them.” 152 likes
More quotes…