DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Aug 13 2010

ShareReads: Disturbingly good, or why can’t I put this book down?

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

Have you ever read a book that makes you shudder yet you have to finish reading it?  And, even worse, you feel the need to encourage others to read it too, so that you can have someone to talk about it with and share the not quite comfortable experience of reading it? Recently, I read two books that fit this bill  – Geek love by Katherine Dunn and Train by Pete Dexter.

Geek love is about a family of carnival freak show members.  The patriarch of the family created cocktails for his lovely wife with amphetamines, arsenic and other drugs when she was pregnant.  From their love, four children with mostly marketable, freakishly abnormal conditions were brought into this world.  Arturo the Aqua Boy, born with flippers and touted as an underwater fortune teller, is destined for greatness as a cult leader who encourages amputations.  Iphy and Elly, the attractive and alluring Siamese twins, play the piano to entertain.  Chick, who appears to be normal, has a strange, mysterious power that is exploitable.  And, finally, there is Oly, an albino hunchback, who is simply deformed with  no profitable condition, and the loving grunt for her family.  She is the voice that shares the tragic story of her family’s past and her present.

Train weaves together the stories of Lionel Walk, also known as Train, and Miller Packard. Train is a street smart, talented black caddy at a ritzy, white golf club.  He stays quiet and does his job. Miller Packard is a distant, hardened detective who seems to bend the interpretation of the law to his will.  A random day on the links and their paths and fates are forever crossed.  Packard is playing the game for money and Train is assigned as his caddy.  With a random challenge, Train’s talents with a putter are brought to Packard’s attention and a future of winning big money is inevitable.  In the midst of their story is Packard’s love for Norah.  Norah is the victim of a horrible, heinous crime that Packard investigates.  Her story is perhaps the most haunting and troubling of any, but all three have their crosses to bear.

Now, I realize that these descriptions are rather innocuous and do not give any indication of the true weight of these books.  Aye, there’s the rub!  These are well written, engaging stories; you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens!  They cause you to think and remain with you long after you’ve turned the last page, but they are horrific and disturbing in ways that I cannot describe in this post.  I know that I can’t be the only one who has continued reading books that troubled me and freaked me out.  Right?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W August 13, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Usually I just stop reading books that disturb or sicken me however the last book I found so terrifying that I had to sleep with the lights on was The Shining, by Stephen King – but I had to finish it!

Sara August 14, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I can relate every time I read Chuck Palahniuk.

Phoenix P. August 14, 2010 at 9:51 PM

I couldn’t put down “World War Z” by Max Brooks. It is hands-down the best zombie book I’ve ever read. It was an entertaining, thoughtful, well-researched collection of interviews about a fictional war with the undead. The author clearly put a lot of thought into this, as cultural, economic, and historical references were considered when examining the scope of the zombie attack on civilization, how each nation fought it, and how eventually, humans overcame the threat. Excellent, quick read with much to say about humanity (or inhumanity).

Joseph M August 16, 2010 at 1:30 PM

I loved World War Z!

Greg H. August 16, 2010 at 2:24 PM

I read GEEK LOVE twenty years ago and I recall that I enjoyed it; but I was also weirded out enough that I doubt that I’ll ever read it a second time.

R. Hughes August 16, 2010 at 2:51 PM

I had similar experiences reading “Geek Love” and “The Lovely Bones.”

Sondra August 16, 2010 at 7:54 PM

I had an awful dream about the prison revenge scene in Roberto Bolaños’ 2666, but I couldn’t imagine not finishing the book.

Kay August 17, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I read and re-read one of Patricia Cornwell’s murder mysteries, even though the level of murder detail was creepy.

Meg August 17, 2010 at 9:21 PM

I LOVED Geek Love-it’s a must read. Disturbing, yes. But she has such a unique voice that you just can’t put the book down.

Phoenix P. September 10, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Okay, I’m getting “Geek Love.”

Phoenix P. December 9, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Okay, “Geek Love” was the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. Ever. It is unlike any other book I’ve read. I definitely enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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