At a Glance

Olympia Binewski, a.k.a. Hopalong McGurk, comes from a family of circus freaks. Her parents operate Binewski's Fabulon, a traveling freak show featuring her brother Arturo, the Aqua Boy, and her sisters Iphy and Electra, a pair of Siamese twins.

  • Olympia is a bald, hunchbacked albino with no particular gifts. She's not a draw for the freak show, and her primary role is as Arturo's assistant. Her sisters, on the other hand, are big stars, and they regularly prostitute themselves to the highest bidders.
  • Arturo founds the cult of Arturism, which manipulates "normal" people into cutting off their limbs and becoming freakish. Arturo becomes very powerful, eventually taking over the family show.
  • Olympia asks her brother Chick, a psychic with telekinetic powers, to impregnate her with Arturo's sperm by moving it into her body. She bears a daughter, Miranda, whom she gives away. Olympia later leaves the show to work in radio. She dies trying to protect Miranda from her family.

Geek Love

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Meet the family Binewski: Al, proprietor and emcee of the carnival, Binewski’s Fabulon; Lil, mother, former geek; Arturo, the Aqua Boy, a torso with flippers; Elly and Iphy, beautiful, piano-playing Siamese twins--two torsos with one waist; Olympia, barker and attendant to Arturo; and Chick, normal but for a quality so “freakish” that there is no act for him. These children, created by Al and Lil with the aid of various illicit substances, have been brought into the world as freaks, and are loved as such.

Through Olympia’s reminiscences, one watches the growth of the children and the carnival. Arturo becomes an authoritarian cult leader whose followers yearn for the opportunity to become like him. The twins, resistant to Arturo’s power, prostitute themselves to the highest bidders. Discovered by Arturo, who loves Iphy, they are “given” to an attendant of Arturo’s. This attendant happens to be the man who shot at the children in a shopping mall parking lot; Lil recognizes him and kills him. This and other episodes are recounted in detail as the story moves toward its climax.

At intervals the narrative is interrupted by Olympia’s “Notes For Now.” Olympia as an adult reads stories for a local radio station, observes her daughter, Miranda, from a distance, and takes care of Lil--a drooling, blind image of what she once was. Miranda, who believes herself an orphan with an unknown benefactress, is a tall, beautiful art student...

(The entire section is 411 words.)