In the sideshow world there are two kinds of human anomaly: the born freaks (your little people, your giants, your conjoined twins, etc) and the made freaks (your bearded ladies, your tattooed people, etc). Katherine Dunn’s imagination brought us something NEW; the made born freak….synthesized through radiation and chemistry. The concept isn’t worlds away from the X Men, only the superpowers aren’t accidental. And then she mixed it with a good power-jockeying family soap opera, say, Dallas AND a sympathetic touch that helped us find common ground with “the other”. Long about 1989 that made for mighty riveting reading. I had the good fortune to read Dunn’s Geek Love at around the same time I discovered the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and P.T. Barnum’s memoir Struggles and Triumphs and much else, and it created a perfect storm of carny mania. Pretty much changed my life! The edition I had looked like this:
So we are saddened to hear that this brilliant and visionary author, who SO plugged in with the zeitgeist has now passed away at the age of 70, another benchmark of the passing era. She sure left this world way better than how she found it.