by Katherine Dunn
Of course, I picked this book up because of the title. I read it because of the summary inside the front flap. After thumbing through "Lobster Boy", how could I pass up a book about a couple who decide to breed their own freak show?
The story is told by Olympia, an albino hunchback dwarf. She is considered the least impressive of the spawn and is not able to have her own show. The oldest child is Arturo, also known as Aqua Boy, who was born out of a cocktail of narcotics without limbs... just finds. After Arty are the twins, Electra and Iphigenia, joined at the hip. Last of the brood is Fortunato (Chick) who looks so normal that he is nearly abandoned... until he reveals that he can control things with his mind.
The novel is the story of this family as the kids grow up, where being extremely freakish is prized and "norms" are shunned. As they grow, Arturo starts a cult where freedom is gained by having one's limbs surgically removed, one or two toes at a time, until just the head and torso remain... like Arturo himself. Entwined with this is the "current" story of Olympia, now in her early 40's, as she attempts to protect her daughter, a daughter who doesn't know who her mother is and who is perfectly normal... except for a fully functioning tail.
All in all, the characters are intriguing and the story well told. The book had the same kind of twisted attraction as a freak show. The writing is dense and intricate, although not without humor. Although I enjoyed the book very much, it didn't suck me in so much that, after a day at work, I would hardly wait to read a few more chapters. Three scabs -o- flab!