May 24, 2012

Daphne Gottlieb on Katherine Dunn

In 1989, I had a cat named Pooka and I didn't eat meat. I was baby steps queer. I shaved my head and dyed my hair pink and shaved my head and pierced my nose. I marched on Washington DC. There was no internet. Being a fierce outcast took work. All my clothes were black. 

In 1989, books were stars -- you wanted to know what the newest, the hottest, the edgiest were. Mary Gaitskill's Bad Behavior was like that. The RE/Search books were like that. 

I was 20. At 20 and before that, books change your life better and more profoundly than they can later. Siddhartha. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The Little Prince. Still Life with Woodpecker. Cat's Cradle

And Geek Love. The story of a "freak show" family-- what begins as a story about outcasts and quickly becomes a story about cults and betrayal, only to ultimately become a meditation on family, love, home and sacrifice. 

I was a freak show. I wanted to find my cult. I knew all about betrayal. The rest I continue to learn about. 

I have read that book at least four times now. I come back to it and come back to it, a favorite resort, a dry place in a storm, a party, a prayer meeting. It has never disappointed me. And I always find something new. I hope you do, too

(You can learn more about Daphne Gottlieb herself here.)


Megan Volpert said...

If you can believe it, Geek Love was actually going to be my own pick to recommend this month. But I deferred because I was dying to know what Daphne would say about it. I'm glad to know that one of our root influences is the same.

et said...

I love Katharine Dunn as well -- my very favorite as a young woman was Truck. I named an early short story from one of the lines in that book "Dig Out Some of that Candy." Have a great summer! ;)