Archive of June 2009

Tue 9 Jun

Geek Love

When this book was selected by the Urban 75 bookgroup I recently started attending I thought it was going to be a cute rom com or chick lit sort of read about a couple meeting through the intra webz and getting cozey... How WRONG could I be!  But that did not stop me using my new  Sony E-reader and getting a free download of the book in question.  I was quite thrilled about that, thinking it was apposite for the name of the book and calculating that if I could download all my bookgroup choices this way then the device would pay for itself in a matter of months.

As it turns out the use of the word geek pre-dates modern useage and has nothing to do with computers.  Rather the word derives from the freak show person at fairs and carnivals whose role was to bite the heads off live chickens!  The heroine of the novel is an albino midget who has a daughter with a far more minor deformity.  One of the first things you have to confront in this story is the idea of a loving mother and father who intentionally inflict birth defects on their offspring, the reason being to populate their travelling roadshow for the carnival.

This may sound immediately offensive, and objectively it is by all standards of human decency.  This is where I find the book remarkable.  It is normal to be asked to suspend our disbelief for the purposes of fiction.  Here we are challenged to also suspend our moral values and jusdgements.  This I could manage to do, largely because my own upbringing was ourside the "norm" for society.  The use of the term norm is actually to be found throughout this book in a pejorative sense for those who conform.

There are a lot more requirements to suspend disbelief - from the character of "Magneto" who has kinetic powers to the charisma of "Arturo" and the movement he founds that disfigures "norms" by their own choice.  One character I found quite repelent is the normal woman who elects to try to "save" certain women by subjecting them to surgical procedures, and indeed she meets a sticky end in the story.

Although it may sound as if I have given away a good deal of the plot I hope these are tasters rather than spoilers and that anyone who reads this will be sufficiently intrigued by them to read this challenging and engaging book.  Although I downloaded it for free I would gladly pay the cover price for what I found to be a great read and a fine first novel.

On a side note - the urban bookgroup was one I started attending when I had no paid employment - as a result taking a bottle of wine along seemed a pricey option and so I developed the habit of baking a cake to take.  I may well keep this up now that I have work, because I enjoy it and they seemed to go down well.  There was the notable time I baked my finest chocolate cake to date and turned up a day late (I had to share with friends and eat it all myself!) and the last time the hostess had baked a fine fruitcake making my efforts irrelevant, but by and large I like the idea and would recommend it to others.