Geek Love
Katherine Dunn, 1989

the nineteenth book in the visitor recommendation series;
suggested anonymously

I was expecting romance between computer programmers.  Turns out that "geek" here means "circus geek", as in people who bite the heads off chickens.  Specifically, this is about a couple of such performers who decide to get married and have a brood of freaks, exposing the mother to dangerous drugs and radioactive material so that their kids will be conjoined twins and albino hunchbacks and whatnot, and constitute the most successful freak show on the carnival circuit.

I audited a class on 19th century pop culture, and it spent a fair amount of time on P.T. Barnum and his "prodigies of physical phenomena", so I was aware of the draw of these sorts of exhibitions for people throughout the decades.  I guess the modern equivalent would be the galleries of gore and grotesquery found on 4chan and Tumblr and the like.  A while back I was talking to an adult woman who was grumbling that on the one hand, Tumblr was a great repository of almost any sort of porn you might like, but on the other, it was pretty much impossible to locate any of it without the pictures of attractive people coupling being interspersed with photos of splattered corpses and horrifying injuries.  To the (mostly teenaged or at least under-25) curators of these pages, it all fell under the heading of "stuff you don't normally get to see", and extraordinarily hideous imagery was as great a thrill as any other kind.

Well, not to me.  I guess I'm pretty squeamish, because I couldn't get through more than a few pages of this — each paragraph was more revolting than the last.  Score: zero.

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