Geek Love Summary

Geek Love is a novel by Katherine Dunn about Olympia Binewski, whose parents operate a traveling freak show featuring Olympia and her siblings.

  • Olympia Binewski is an assistant in her family's traveling freakshow.
  • Olympia's brother Arturo founds Arturism, a cult that encourages people to mutilate themselves and become freakish.
  • Olympia has her telekinetic brother Chick impregnate her with Arturo's sperm, resulting in a daughter, Miranda, who Olympia sends away.
  • When Arturo dies and the freakshow disbands, Olympia becomes a radio host and watches over Miranda from afar. She dies saving Miranda from Arturist influences and leaves behind a record of her family history. 

Summary

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 427

Katherine Dunn’s novel, Geek Love is the life story of Olympia Binewski, told from her own perspective. The novel first describes the travels of the Binewski Fabulon, a family freak show featuring Olympia herself, who has dwarfism, her brother Arturo, who has flippers instead of hands and feet, Electra and Iphigenia, a pair of conjoined twins, and Fortunato, or Chick, who is capable of telekinesis. Dunn describes the show’s progress across rural America, describing the responses it stimulates in audiences, responses ranging from murderous hostility to obsessive infatuation. She then goes on to describe how “Arti,” the oldest of the siblings comes to assume a leading role in the Fabulon as the children grow, seeking more and more to assert control over the lives of his siblings, to their great discomfort. He starts a cult called “Arturism,” a movement that encourages its members to amputate their limbs and so free themselves from normality, which is for the Binewski family an undesirable state.

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Olympia convinces Chick to impregnate her, using his telekinesis to transport Arturo’s sperm into her womb. But when the baby Miranda is born, Arti convinces Olympia to send her child off to a convent. Chick has, like his siblings long chafed under Arti’s control, and when the twins and their child are killed this triggers an explosion of his anger. The fire storm he creates kills Arti and destroys the Fabulon. Olympia finds a job as a newsreader, and buys a house where she lives with her mother and her daughter Miranda, now recovered from the Convent who was born with a small, curly tail. When her daughter is eighteen, and working part-time in a strip club that specializes in people with “freakish” qualities, she meets a dangerous friend known as Miss Lick, who turns out to be a staunch proponent of her uncle’s cult. Lick’s mission is to find attractive girls, girls who are limited by society’s prejudices toward them as sex objects, and convince them to disfigure themselves so that they might escape these prejudices and become free to reach their full potential. The implication is however that Lick’s motives are not pure, that she merely wants to punish these girls for the crime of being more attractive than she is. Worried by Lick’s efforts to convince her daughter to remove her tail, to “fix herself,” Olympia murders Lick and then kills herself, leaving behind a case of documents for Miranda to find, where the history of the Binewskis and their fabulon is recorded.

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