Geek Love: A Novel by Katherine DunnGeek Love: A Novel by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love: A Novel

byKatherine Dunn

Paperback | June 11, 2002

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National Book Award finalist

Here is the unforgettable story of the Binewskis, a circus-geek family whose matriarch and patriarch have bred their own exhibit of human oddities (with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes). Their offspring include 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 Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious—and dangerous—asset. 

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.
Katherine Dunn was a novelist and boxing journalist who lived and worked in Oregon. She is the author of three novels: Attic; Truck; and Geek Love, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Bram Stoker Prize. She died in 2016.
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Title:Geek Love: A NovelFormat:PaperbackPublished:June 11, 2002Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0375713344

ISBN - 13:9780375713347

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Creepy but intriguing story I found this book very intriguing but it is very dark and was a bit too perverse for me. I appreciated the edgy push the envelope nature of the story and writing but my personal taste just didn't love it (I need happier books to help me destress). Fantastic book you'll never see the twists and turns coming but it just wasn't my face.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perhaps my All-Time Favorite! I bought this years ago and have read it about a dozen times, recently picked up a copy for a friend for Christmas as well! This novel is definitely not for everyone, it's quite graphic, but if you can handle some really delicate themes I'd definitely give it a go!
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quirky & Strangely Beautiful This book won't be everyone's cup of tea, but when read with an open mind and heart you'll discover so much about the human condition.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Strangely Fantastic. This is not a book for every reader. The plot twists and the General story are quite strange. It revolves around a circus family (the strange deformed kind) unless you want to read about weird, demented, derailed conflict. Then I suggest you move along.. but for those of you who love a good read, the twisted family knots will keep you intrigued. I read this while travelling out west and it was a jaw dropper once arriving to the end. There are some dry areas however, overall was very very entertaining. Once I finished I said to myself "what did I just read?!" I have recommended it to select friends.
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I wanted to like it... This novel is often praised by some of my favorite authors, so I had high hopes before starting it. I'll admit that the premise is ripe for opportunities, but a disjointed narrative that jumps between time periods and an unlikeable narrator made it a very hard read to get into and get through. Although the novel picked up the pace halfway through, it didn't last long. There was something about the writing that was almost unreadable: it's not bad, but the sentence structure really distracted me from being able to enjoy the story. Maybe it just wasn't for me, but I did not like this book.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top !! Fascinating story, from the other side of normal. Characters that are as grotesque as they are normal.
Date published: 2015-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Top !! Started out quite good then got a bit Weird. Good for discussion at book club this week.
Date published: 2014-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful read I love when a book surprises me. This one did so. It was also exceptionally heartwarming even with its darkness.
Date published: 2010-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! Geek Love is an odd, fascinating book that has nothing to do with Star Wars. It takes upon a form of a memoir of Olympia Binewski, an albino dwarf, written for her daughter Miranda. Olympia and her siblings, - Aqua Boy, Siamese twins, and a telepath - are all products of their parents’ grotesque experiments conducted in order to save their travelling carnival from bankruptcy. They live a happy life together enjoying their uniqueness, until their older brother grows up to realize his own power and ambitions. Arturo the Aqua Boy’s self-destructing nature became evident since his early childhood, starting with his attention dependency and feats of cruel jealousy. In attempt to punish those who might have strayed from his worship, Arty hurt and tortured them, afterwords feeling agonizing guilt that pushed him further into madness. His sisters Elly and Iphy experienced that first hand. Those close to Arty could never predict when they’d fall out of his favour: Doctor P and Arty’s cult followers met their demise just because of that unpredictability of his nature. Yet nobody dared to stop him, or maybe they simply chose to stay blind. Olympia herself worshiped her brother, and even admitted to love him dearly because she could see that ugly cruel side of him. I enjoyed Katherine Dunn’s intricate language very much, even though it took me a chapter or two to get used to. Her open-minded and often shocking narrative practically glued me to the book, as I found myself often unable to put it down for hours. Dunn’s careful attention to details is a prime example of how to write a masterful novel. I loved the idea that all girls who work for the Binewski family must be redheads. This insignificant to the plot fact enriched the setting of the book and made it easier to picture the exotic world of the travelling carnival. I would recommend Geek Love to anyone who is not afraid to look at the beautiful side of ugly and vice versa.
Date published: 2009-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book, bad cover You can't judge a book by its cover, but even though this book was excellent its cover made me wince every time I picked it up. /Geek Love/ is the story of a carny family, whose children are all diffent in their own way -- fins instead of hands, Siamese twins, an albino dwarf and a boy who can shape matter with his mind make up the complete cast. Although this element could have easily run away with the plot, it is not what the book is about. Rather, it explores everything from family dynamics, sibling rivalry and most important, the reversal of the perceived value of being normal. Katherine Dunn's writing drew me into the world immediately -- she has a strong gift for engaging the imagination, which ultimately is what makes this book successful. After I bought this book, I noticed it was also an audio book and think it would be fantastic in that format. Read this if you are looking for a break from the typical novel and are open to exploring why we carry the social archetypes that we do.
Date published: 2008-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from so wrong and so right at the same time.. a couple in danger of losing their business, a circus sideshow, take matters into their own hands. different drug cocktails lead to the children that become their livelihood. very ethically offensive and yet i couldn't put it down...
Date published: 2008-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A faint whiff of nausea hit me at seeing pain as proof of love: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn GEEK LOVE (1983) by Katherine Dunn is has become a cult classic with good reason. The story tells us about the Binewski clan, a carny family that, with the use of arsenic and radioisotopes, begins to breed their own exhibitions: Arturo the Aquaboy, Iphy and Elly, Chick. . . The Chicago Tribune remarked: “Unrelentingly bizarre. . . perverse but riveting. . . Will keep you turning the pages.” Absolutely. This is one of the weirdest – if not THE weirdest “love story” I’ve ever come across. Kind of makes H.P. Lovecraft seem tame by comparison. Added to this is, of course, Dunn’s stunning talents as a writer. Chapter 11: “Blood, Stumps, and Other Changes.” You really do want to know. I came to be aware of GEEK LOVE through Palahniuk’s fan website, where it was listed as recommended reading. I have little doubt that more than a few of the scenes in his work are indebted to Dunn, a fellow resident in Oregon (she even makes a personal appearance in Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees). Check out p. 161 for “the fuming mist of chemical burn rising from the bubbling flesh.” I also tend to associate Tyler Durden with Arturo the Aquaboy and the narrator with Oly. Sort of. If you like the odd-lit, you’ll l.o.v.e. GEEK LOVE. * * * “They stretch out their dampest secrets because a creature like me has no virtues or morals. If I am “good” (and they assume that I am), it’s obviously for lack of opportunity to be otherwise. And I listen. I listen eagerly, warmly, because I care. They tell me everything eventually” (156). “Arturism: a quasi-religious cult making no representations of a god or gods, and having nothing to say about life after death. The cult represents itself as offering earthly sanctuary from the aggravations of life. . . The phrase “Peace, Isolation, Purity” seems to be the slogan. Many commercial posters distributed in advance of the sow read, ‘Arturo knows, All Pain, All Shame, and the Remedy!’” (227).
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inventive The characters in Geek Love were fantastical and vivid. The story however felt heavy and slow at times. A good book for those who like to see the boundaries of convention stretched.
Date published: 2003-02-08

Read from the Book

1The Nuclear Family: His Talk, Her Teeth"When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing. 'Spread your lips, sweet Lil,' they'd cluck, 'and show us your choppers!' "This same Crystal Lil, our star-haired mama, sitting snug on the built-in sofa that was Arty's bed at night, would chuckle at the sewing in her lap and shake her head. "Don't piffle to the children, Al. Those hens ran like whiteheads."Nights on the road this would be, between shows and towns in some campground or pull-off, with the other vans and trucks and trailers of Binewski's Carnival Fabulon ranged up around us, safe in our portable village.After supper, sitting with full bellies in the lamp glow, we Binewskis were supposed to read and study. But if it rained the story mood would sneak up on Papa. The hiss and tick on the metal of our big living van distracted him from his papers. Rain on a show night was catastrophe. Rain on the road meant talk, which, for Papa, was pure pleasure."It's a shame and a pity, Lil," he'd say, "that these offspring of yours should only know the slumming summer geeks from Yale.""Princeton, dear," Mama would correct him mildly. "Randall will be a sophomore this fall. I believe he's our first Princeton boy."We children would sense our story slipping away to trivia. Arty would nudge me and I'd pipe up with, "Tell about the time when Mama was the geek!" and Arty and Elly and Iphy and Chick would all slide into line with me on the floor between Papa's chair and Mama.Mama would pretend to be fascinated by her sewing and Papa would tweak his swooping mustache and vibrate his tangled eyebrows, pretending reluctance. "WellIll . . ." he'd begin, "it was a long time ago . . .""Before we were born!""Before . . ." he'd proclaim, waving an arm in his grandest ringmaster style, "before I even dreamed you, my dreamlets!""I was still Lillian Hinchcliff in those days," mused Mama. "And when your father spoke to me, which was seldom and reluctantly, he called me 'Miss.' ""Miss!" we would giggle. Papa would whisper to us loudly, as though Mama couldn't hear, "Terrified! I was so smitten I'd stutter when I tried to talk to her. 'M-M-M-Miss . . .' I'd say."We'd giggle helplessly at the idea of Papa, the GREAT TALKER, so flummoxed."I, of course, addressed your father as Mister Binewski.""There I was," said Papa, "hosing the old chicken blood and feathers out of the geek pit on the morning of July 3rd and congratulating myself for having good geek posters, telling myself I was going to sell tickets by the bale because the weekend of the Fourth is the hottest time for geeks and I had a fine, brawny geek that year. Enthusiastic about the work, he was. So I'm hosing away, feeling very comfortable and proud of myself, when up trips your mama, looking like angelfood, and tells me my geek has done a flit in the night, folded his rags as you might say, and hailed a taxi for the airport. He leaves a note claiming his pop is very sick and he, the geek, must retire from the pit and take his fangs home to Philadelphia to run the family bank.""Brokerage, dear," corrects Mama."And with your mama, Miss Hinchcliff, standing there like three scoops of vanilla I can't even cuss! What am I gonna do? The geek posters are all over town!""It was during a war, darlings," explains Mama. "I forget which one precisely. Your father had difficulty getting help at that time or he never would have hired me, even to make costumes, as inexperienced as I was.""So I'm standing there fuddled from breathing Miss Hinchcliff's Midnight Marzipan perfume and cross-eyed with figuring. I couldn't climb into the pit myself because I was doing twenty jobs already. I couldn't ask Horst the Cat Man because he was a vegetarian to begin with, and his dentures would disintegrate the first time he hit a chicken neck anyhow. Suddenly your mama pops up for all the world like she was offering me sherry and biscuits. 'I'll do it, Mr. Binewski,' she says, and I just about sent a present to my laundryman."Mama smiled sweetly into her sewing and nodded. "I was anxious to prove myself useful to the show. I'd been with Binewski's Fabulon only two weeks at the time and I felt very keenly that I was on trial.""So I says," interrupts Papa, " 'But, miss, what about your teeth?' Meaning she might break 'em or chip 'em, and she smiles wide, just like she's smiling now, and says, 'They're sharp enough, I think!' "We looked at Mama and her teeth were white and straight, but of course by that time they were all false."I looked at her delicate little jaw and I just groaned. 'No,' I says, 'I couldn't ask you to . . .' but it did flash into my mind that a blonde and lovely geek with legs--I mean your mama has what we refer to in the trade as LEGS--would do the business no real harm. I'd never heard of a girl geek before and the poster possibilities were glorious. Then I thought again, No . . . she couldn't . . .""What your papa didn't know was that I'd watched the geek several times and of course I'd often helped Minna, our cook at home, when she slaughtered a fowl for the table. I had him. He had no choice but to give me a try.""Oh, but I was scared spitless when her first show came up that afternoon! Scared she'd be disgusted and go home to Boston. Scared she'd flub the deal and have the crowd screaming for their money back. Scared she'd get hurt . . . A chicken could scratch her or peck an eye out quick as a blink.""I was quite nervous myself," nodded Mama."The crowd was good. A hot Saturday that was, and the Fourth of July was the Sunday. I was running like a geeked bird the whole day myself, and just had time to duck behind the pit for one second before I stood up front to lead in the mugs. There she was like a butterfly . . .""I wore tatters really, white because it shows the blood so well even in the dark of the pit.""But such artful tatters! Such low-necked, slit-to-the-thigh, silky tatters! So I took a deep breath and went out to talk 'em in. And in they went. A lot of soldiers in the crowd. I was still selling tickets when the cheers and whistles started inside and the whooping and stomping on those old wood bleachers drew even more people. I finally grabbed a popcorn kid to sell tickets and went inside to see for myself."Papa grinned at Mama and twiddled his mustache."I'll never forget," he chuckled."I couldn't growl, you see, or snarl convincingly So I sang," explained Mama."Happy little German songs! In a high, thin voice!""Franz Schubert, my dears.""She fluttered around like a dainty bird, and when she caught those ugly squawking hens you couldn't believe she'd actually do anything. When she went right ahead and geeked 'em that whole larruping crowd went bonzo wild. There never was such a snap and twist of the wrist, such a vampire flick of the jaws over a neck or such a champagne approach to the blood. She'd shake her star-white hair and the bitten-off chicken head would skew off into the corner while she dug her rosy little fingernails in and lifted the flopping, jittering carcass like a golden goblet, and sipped! Absolutely sipped at the wriggling guts! She was magnificent, a princess, a Cleopatra, an elfin queen! That was your mama in the geek pit."People swarmed her act. We built more bleachers, moved her into the biggest top we had, eleven hundred capacity, and it was always jammed.""It was fun." Lil nodded. "But I felt that it wasn't my true metier.""Yeah." Papa would half frown, looking down at his hands, quieted suddenly.Feeling the story mood evaporate, one of us children would coax, "What made you quit, Mama?"She would sigh and look up from under her spun-glass eyebrows at Papa and then turn to where we were huddled on the floor in a heap and say softly, "I had always dreamed of flying. The Antifermos, the Italian trapeze clan, joined the show in Abilene and I begged them to teach me." Then she wasn't talking to us anymore but to Papa. "And, Al, you know you would never have got up the nerve to ask for my hand if I hadn't fallen and got so bunged up. Where would we be now if I hadn't?"Papa nodded, "Yes, yes, and I made you walk again just fine, didn't I?" But his face went flat and smileless and his eyes went to the poster on the sliding door to their bedroom. It was old silvered paper, expensive, with the lone lush figure of Mama in spangles and smile, high-stepping with arms thrown up so her fingers, in red elbow-length gloves, touched the starry letters arching "CRYSTAL LIL" above her.My father's name was Aloysius Binewski. He was raised in a traveling carnival owned by his father and called "Binewski's Fabulon." Papa was twenty-four years old when Grandpa died and the carnival fell into his hands. Al carefully bolted the silver urn containing his father's ashes to the hood of the generator truck that powered the midway. The old man had wandered with the show for so long that his dust would have been miserable left behind in some stationary vault.Times were hard and, through no fault of young Al's, business began to decline. Five years after Grandpa died, the once flourishing carnival was fading.The show was burdened with an aging lion that repeatedly broke expensive dentures by gnawing the bars of his cage; demands for cost-of living increases from the fat lady, whose food supply was written into her contract; and the midnight defection of an entire family of animal eroticists, taking their donkey, goat, and Great Dane with them.The fat lady eventually jumped ship to become a model for a magazine called Chubby Chaser. My father was left with a cut-rate, diesel-fueled fire-eater and the prospect of a very long stretch in a trailer park outside of Fort Lauderdale.Al was a standard-issue Yankee, set on self-determination and independence, but in that crisis his core of genius revealed itself. He decided to breed his own freak show.My mother, Lillian Hinchcliff, was a water-cool aristocrat from the fastidious side of Boston's Beacon Hill, who had abandoned her heritage and joined the carnival to become an aerialist. Nineteen is late to learn to fly and Lillian fell, smashing her elegant nose and her collarbones. She lost her nerve but not her lust for sawdust and honky-tonk lights. It was this passion that made her an eager partner in Al's scheme. She was willing to chip in on any effort to renew public interest in the show. Then, too, the idea of inherited security was ingrained from her childhood. As she often said, "What greater gift could you offer your children than an inherent ability to earn a living just by being themselves?"The resourceful pair began experimenting with illicit and prescription drugs, insecticides, and eventually radioisotopes. My mother developed a complex dependency on various drugs during this process, but she didn't mind. Relying on Papa's ingenuity to keep her supplied, Lily seemed to view her addiction as a minor by-product of their creative collaboration.Their firstborn was my brother Arturo, usually known as Aqua Boy. His hands and feet were in the form of flippers that sprouted directly from his torso without intervening arms or legs. He was taught to swim in infancy and was displayed nude in a big clear-sided tank like an aquarium. His favorite trick at the ages of three and four was to put his face close to the glass, bulging his eyes out at the audience, opening and closing his mouth like a river bass, and then to turn his back and paddle off, revealing the turd trailing from his muscular little buttocks. Al and Lil laughed about it later, but at the time it caused them great consternation as well as the nuisance of sterilizing the tank more often than usual. As the years passed, Arty donned trunks and became more sophisticated, but it's been said, with some truth, that his attitude never really changed.My sisters, Electra and Iphigenia, were born when Arturo was two years old and starting to haul in crowds. The girls were Siamese twins with perfect upper bodies joined at the waist and sharing one set of hips and legs. They usually sat and walked and slept with their long arms around each other. They were, however, able to face directly forward by allowing the shoulder of one to overlap the other. They were always beautiful, slim, and huge-eyed. They studied the piano and began performing piano duets at an early age. Their compositions for four hands were thought by some to have revolutionized the twelve-tone scale.I was born three years after my sisters. My father spared no expense in these experiments. My mother had been liberally dosed with cocaine, amphetamines, and arsenic during her ovulation and throughout her pregnancy with me. It was a disappointment when I emerged with such commonplace deformities. My albinism is the regular pink-eyed variety and my hump, though pronounced, is not remarkable in size or shape as humps go. My situation was far too humdrum to be marketable on the same scale as my brother's and sisters'. Still, my parents noted that I had a strong voice and decided I might be an appropriate shill and talker for the business. A bald albino hunchback seemed the right enticement toward the esoteric talents of the rest of the family. The dwarfism, which was very apparent by my third birthday, came as a pleasant surprise to the patient pair and increased my value. From the beginning I slept in the built-in cupboard beneath the sink in the family living van, and had a collection of exotic sunglasses to shield my sensitive eyes.Despite the expensive radium treatments incorporated in his design, my younger brother, Fortunato, had a close call in being born to apparent normalcy. That drab state so depressed my enterprising parents that they immediately prepared to abandon him on the doorstep of a closed service station as we passed through Green River, Wyoming, late one night. My father had actually parked the van for a quick getaway and had stepped down to help my mother deposit the baby in the cardboard box on some safe part of the pavement. At that precise moment the two-week-old baby stared vaguely at my mother and in a matter of seconds revealed himself as not a failure at all, but in fact my parents' masterwork. It was lucky, so they named him Fortunato. For one reason and another we always called him Chick.

Bookclub Guide

US1. Geek Love is preceded by an epigraph from “The Tempest,” in which the magician Prospero says of the monster Caliban: “This thing of darkness I Acknowledge mine” [“The Tempest,” 5.1.275-6]. How is this quote relevant to the novel? In what sense is Geek Love about acknowledging one’s own darkness, freakishness, or otherness?2. Reviewers, even in praising Geek Love, have described it as “bizarre” (Chicago Tribune), “shocking” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and “grisly” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). In what ways does the novel seek to shock readers? What preconceptions does it try to overturn? How does it manage to be both engaging and deeply disturbing?3. Reading imaginative literature requires, as Samuel Coleridge said, a willing suspension of disbelief. How difficult is it to suspend disbelief and enter into the fictional world of Geek Love? What are the rewards of doing so?4. The first chapter of Geek Love is titled “The Nuclear Family,” and the father Al is described as a “standard-issue Yankee, set on self-determination and independence” [p. 7]. In what ways are the Binewskis like a typical American family, with its ambitions and rivalries and emotional power struggles? What is Dunn suggesting by pointing out these similarities?5. Geek Love was written in the early eighties. How does it reflect and satirize American culture at that time?6. When Chick is born, the family is ashamed and wants to get rid of him because he appears to be normal; Olympia speaks of escaping childhood knowledge into the innocence of adulthood; and eventually people who come to Arty’s shows pay to have their limbs amputated so they can feel whole again. What is Dunn suggesting through these reversals of values? What does she accomplish by subverting our “normal” ways of perceiving these things?7. When Oly asks Arty if the ghost stories he reads scare him, he replies, “These are written by norms to scare norms. And do you know what the monsters and demons and rancid spirits are? Us, that’s what. You and me. We are the things that come to the norms in nightmares. . . . These books teach me a lot. They don’t scare me because they’re about me” [p. 46]. In what sense is Arty right in thinking that he and his siblings are the stuff of normal people’s nightmares? What is frightening about them? Is Dunn’s book disconcerting because in some important way it’s more a reflection of ourselves than we care to admit?8. Katherine Dunn employs many unusual words in Geek Love: skootching, skuttered, rooched, snorking, frowzled, etc. What do such words add to the flavor of the novel? In what ways is such language appropriate to the story Dunn is telling?9. In his journal, Norval Sanderson writes, “General opinion about Arty varies, from those who see him as a profound humanitarian to those who view him as a ruthless reptile” [p. 273]. Which of these views is more accurate? Is Arty a healer or a huckster?10. How do the twins, Iphy and Elly, Arty, Chick, and Oly relate to each other? What roles do they play? How does Arty gain control over them?11. Why does Dunn use the story of Hopalong McGurk, Miranda, and Mary Lick, which occurs in the fictional present, to frame the main narrative of the rise and fall of the Binewski family? What does each story line contribute to the other? In what ways is Mark Lick like Arty?12. Olympia says that Miss Lick’s purpose in arranging disfiguring operations is to “liberate women who are liable to be exploited by male hungers. These exploitable women are, in Miss Lick’s view, the pretty ones.” After they lose their beauty they can “use their talents and intelligence to become powerful” [p. 162]. Is this a valid critique of the constraints of attractiveness for women? What does the novel as a whole say about the relation between appearance and power?13. In one of Arturo’s statements to Norval Sanderson, he says, “I get glimpses of the horror of normalcy. Each of these innocents on the street is engulfed by a terror of their own ordinariness. They would do anything to be unique” [p. 223]. Is he right? Do most people fear being ordinary?14. Why does Oly kill Mary Lick and then herself at the end of the novel? What are her hopes for her daughter?15. The reviewer for Kirkus wrote that the novel is about “love and hubris in a carnival family.” How does love motivate the main characters in the novel? Who is guilty of hubris? What are the consequences of this overreaching ambition?

Editorial Reviews

“A Fellini movie in ink. . . . Geek Love throws a punch.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Wonderfully descriptive. . . . Dunn [has a] tremendous imagination.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Like most great novels, this one keeps the reader marveling at the daring of the author.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

“Unrelentingly bizarre . . . perverse but riveting. . . . Will keep you turning the pages.” –Chicago Tribune