lucius_t (lucius_t) wrote in theinferior4,

Katherine Dunn

I met Katherine Dunn at Clarion West in 1995. She was teaching the workshop and I was just hanging out at the party given for her on her final night in residence. We had, as I recall, a scholarly discussion about the great lightweight champion, Roberto Duran (some of you may not feel that a scholarly discussion on the subject of blood sport is possible, but trust me on this), and discovered that we shared an obsession with the sport of boxing. Since that night we’ve been friends, even though we approach things quite differently. In conversation, for instance, I tend just to start babbling, riffing off whatever comes along, whereas Katherine approaches talking as she approaches most things, in a highly organized and rational manner, taking lots of thoughtful pauses and intentionally (rather than, as in my case, inadvertently) making her point. But anyway, we’ve managed to stay friends over the course of twelve years and, as is a friend’s right on occasion, I intend now to embarrass her.

Katherine published her first novel, Attic, in 1970, and published two more, Truck and Three Day Fox: A Tattoo, during the decade. Then in 1989, Knopf brought out Geek Love.
“The Geek,” as Katherine tends to call it, stands as one of the most original and memorable novels of the 20th century, seeming to spring without literary antecedent onto the landscape of American letters. It tells the story of Art and Lily, the proprietors of Binewski’s Fabulon, a small traveling carnival, who have chosen to breed a family of freaks by means of ingesting pharmaceuticals, insecticides, anything with mutagenic potential, this in order to keep the carnival going. The novel is narrated by one of Art-and-Lily’s progeny, an albino dwarf named Olympia who, in a series of flashbacks, reflects upon her life in the Fabulon and upon her siblings, notably her brother Arturo, Aqua Boy, whose nightmarish destiny forms the core of the book. If you haven’t read Geek Love, you need to read it. It’s a horror novel about love, a love story on acid—it’s a great and compulsively readable book. Terry Gillian and Johnny Dep have recently expressed interest in filming it, but until then you’ll just have to do with the book, which—after all—is whole lot better for you.

Now Katherine is close to unleashing another novel on the world, The Cut Man, which involves…Well, I’ll let her tell you about it, but I will say that I’ve heard her read from it and it lives up to all expectations.

Starting tomorrow, Katherine will be hear to answer questions, comment, and etc. We’re happy to welcome her to what is now the Inferior 5…
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