Geek Love at 25

From Geek Love at 25: How a Freak Family Inspired Your Pop Culture Heroes, by Caitlin Roper:

“Novelist Karen Russell read Geek Love for the first time when she was 15. She picked it up expecting a story of nerds in love, but found something else: “I felt electrocuted when I read that first page with Crystal Lil and her freak brood. I stood there in the bookstore and my jaw came unhinged. No book I’ve read, before or since, has given me that specific jolt.”

“Occasionally she’d tell friends about her work in progress, Geek Love. “They would groan and say, ‘For Christ sake, Dunn, no one’s going to publish that, no one’s going to want to read that kind of crap.’ I figured, well, that’s probably true.”

“Pine recalls how Geek Love stood out against popular literary fiction of the time. “Fiction was dominated by realism. Saul Bellow, Philip Roth in the middle of his career, Bernard Malamud, John Updike. You didn’t have people removing digits, people with magical powers or extra limbs. Knopf was the bastion of this realistic fiction, so for Geek Love to be Sonny’s first book—it’s not what was deemed appropriate or commercial. It was a big deal.”

Geek Love touched a nerve at the beginning of the ’90s, as grunge rock poured from the Pacific Northwest and independent movies like Reservoir Dogs (1992), Clerks (1994), Kids (1995), and Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) flourished. In the same way that punk and grunge felt real—not like slick stadium rock, big-budget studio movies, hokey scripted TV—Geek Love achieved a fresh kind of authenticity. The Binewskis felt real, even as their lives and their story were fantastical. There was something about the idea of a freak show, an entertainment that hadn’t thrived in American culture for generations, which felt just right in the early ’90s.”

Read the rest here:

https://www.wired.com/2014/03/geek-love/

Geek Love has inspired a sprawling universe of fan art, including this oil and watercolor by Brandon Zimmerman that depicts the novel’s conjoined twins, Electra and Iphigenia Binewski.
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