Katherine Dunn’s novel, Geek Love, is the most singular, evocative, twisted, hilarious book I have ever read. Every sentence contains a surprise. There is nothing else like it. I’ve given a copy of Geek Love as a gift at least once a year for the last decade. A while ago, I wrote Katherine Dunn a fan letter. In reaction to my heaps of heartfelt praise, she said simply, “I’m so grateful that you found it funny. Not everyone gets the jokes.”
It took seventeen years to get from my second novel, Truck, to my third, Geek Love.
Our correspondence ranged from marriage to Mike Tyson’s pigeons, but there was one steady thread—my repeated nagging for a short story or piece of fiction to read and consider for the magazine. I learned from Katherine that I was not her only fan among
Paris Review editors. “Shortly before George Plimpton died, he phoned me out of the blue—he was a legendary figure for my generation so this blew my pulse rate to ecstatic shreds—asking to include one of my pieces in a volume of boxing stories he was planning to edit. It would have been a great honor.” A new Katherine Dunn story in The Paris Review, the issue’s printed, and my pulse has not yet returned to normal.
Since Geek Love was published in 1989, you’ve published many articles, essays, even poetry, but not much fiction. Does fiction take longer to simmer?
Yes, I’ve only published a few short stories in anthologies. Some projects do take longer to gel. But nonfiction is done on a deadline so somebody snatches it away and prints it.
Twenty years is a long time for something to gel, what has happened?
I don’t want to be glib here, but twenty years worth of life and work happened. Some might say I’m right on schedule by my lights. It took seventeen years to get from my second novel, Truck, to my third, Geek Love. And Cut Man is still in progress but it’s a longer book. Fortunately there’s no shortage of wonderful novelists to keep us all engaged. And, lucky for me, the Magi at Alfred A. Knopf are possessed of patience.