Tag Archives: Goodreads

The To Be Read Pile’s Final Review: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Did you participate in a book challenge this year?  There are so many fun ones it’s hard to choose, but I completed my first year with the To Be Read Pile Challenge.  It’s a contest to complete 12 books that have been sitting on your shelf for over a year.  The prize for all those who complete their 12 books is a chance for a $50 gift card to Amazon or Book Depository.  Pretty awesome, right?

To learn more about the To Be Read Pile Challenge click the 2013 link above and sign up for next year’s contest!

Part of the qualifier for the contest is to write up a review of each of the 12 books you read.  It can be as elaborate or simple as you like.  Check out my 2012 book list and past reviews at any of these links:

My TBR Pile Challenge Books: 

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  3. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  6. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  7. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  8. The Lace Reader by Bromonia Barry
  9. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  10. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  11. The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
  12. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters, Jane Austen

I have yet to do my final review of the last book, so I present…

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

(goodreads.com)

Geek Love is the story of the Binewski family, a bunch of circus freaks taking their act on the road.

That, and they actually create their act.  Al and Lil Binewski willingly subject themselves to various mixtures of drugs in hopes of birthing the most wonderful freaks and geeks for their family show!  There’s Arturo, the aqua boy.  Iphy and Elly the siamese twins.  Oly, the dwarf hunchback.  And their newest member, Chick, who’s the most special of all.

The story actually jumps around a bit between the family’s early years on the road and where they ended up down the line.

The shining glory of the story is in its bizarre, twisted writing.  It’s strange phrasing of words reminds me of my first encounter with A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Sample the Writing:

Here’s a sample, one of my favorite descriptive paragraphs wherein the father is telling the children about his wife’s glory days in the ring as…the woman who bites heads off of chickens!

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.

It’s quite entrancing really.  I loved the writing.  But, the story did wane a bit for me.  I would’ve been perfectly content reading more stories about them on the road together as youngsters.  As the story unfolded to their later years, and the subsequent demise of the Binewski circle I began to hate many of these characters.

I do think this book would make for a fascinating movie.  And if I were a make up artist/creature creator I’d so want in on the production! Visually, I love the book.

I am a big Goodreads fan and check out other reader reviews on there often.  It seemed most readers were really divided.  Cumulatively, Geek Love holds a solid 4.0 rating out of 5 stars, which is pretty dang high.  But reader response was quite split between full on love and then other 2.0 ratings like myself where it was a lot of I really liked it, but… statements.

Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself!  It’s certainly an interesting premise!  

And 2013 is almost here!  Sign up for the To Be Read Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader.  See you there! 

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What Do You Do When the Book Doesn’t Live Up to its Hype?

We’re in the final two months of the To Be Read Pile Challenge, a year long contest where many of us are trying to read through 12 months of books that have been lingering on our bookshelves too long.  Over the course of this year, I’ve already acquired the titles for 2013’s list!  Haven’t you? 

The rules of the contest allow us to have two alternatives, in case one of the titles doesn’t keep our interest, we can can “opt out” so to speak and pick a different book.  Here’s my list for 2012.

My TBR Pile Challenge Books: 

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  3. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  6. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  7. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  8. The Lace Reader by Bromonia Barry
  9. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  10. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  11. The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
  12. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters, Jane Austen

Recently, I finished reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  Little Bee is a book with a 3.63 rating out of 5 on Goodreads.  And yet this book received so much praise upon its release!  So many of my friends have read it and loved it!  I was left feeling a little underwhelmed.  Here’s the review I left on Goodreads:

Little Bee is an exceptionally well written book with great characters. I bought this book while on vacation after the sales clerk told me she couldn’t tell me what the book was about; I was just supposed to read it.

She said it all very excited. You read the book. You love it. And you tell your friends to read it. But…you tell them nothing of the story.

It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I think I get why this book is being marketed as such. To discuss the story, would dilute the story. The magic of this book is that it forces you to think about a wealth of issues that you weren’t expecting it to. And a really good reader will place themselves in the book either as a character or right alongside them. And so I asked myself, what would I do in this situation…?

I can’t say anything bad about the book, it is a good one. And yet, I don’t know if I’m haunted by the story or left wanting to know more. And that’s the sign of a good book isn’t it? I enjoyed Little Bee. I’m glad I read it. It didn’t make me as excited as that sales clerk though. *shrug*

I kept reading the reviews from everyone, and there were a lot of interesting theories.  Some believed the book was outstanding, and that the detriment to its rank came from the over-abundance of praise, spoiling the book for its readers and not letting its worth stand on its own.  I also learned that there had been a title change from the European release to its American one!

Which title grabs your attention more:  Little Bee or The Other Hand?

I did finish reading Little Bee, and I liked it.  But it’s not going on my “Titles of the Year” list.  And after completing Little Bee, I’m down to just one more title on my TBR Pile.  It’s looming there…

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.  I began reading this one in the summer, was loving it immensely, and it sort of fizzled halfway through.

So, fellow readers, my dilemna:

Should I finish reading Geek Love and hope it picks back up?  Or, do I move on to one of my alternative titles?  

What do you do when a book doesn’t live up to its hype?

Oooh, and please suggest a title for my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge!  If you leave one for me, I’ll give you one back!  The only rule is it has to be at least a year old, so  published in 2011 or before.  Thanks, readers!

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