I was immediately taken in by the storyline and the cruel but fantastical view of the American circus circa 1920-1930. Gruen parallels the history with the almost-present masterfully by portraying an aging man (either 90 or 93) grumpy to be in a nursing home. I found myself aching for his decrepit present while being enthralled by his colored past.
I couldn't help but think of how much the world has changed in less than 100 years. The depiction of the "cannibalizing, 2nd rate circus" was memerizing... complete with 400 pound ladies, little people, and a hunt for a man with a twin growing out of his chest. You know, stuff curious folks today would just google image search for.
This novel is not for the easily offended as I found many parts to be a bit seedy (happens all too often in contemporary fiction), but I thought the story was interesting and definitely some great talking points for a book group.