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'Geek Love' author fights off purse snatcher in Northwest Portland

Who said authors are wimps?  I just love this story!

Author Katherine Dunn spent more than 10 years training with the fighters of Knott Street Boxing Club in Northeast Portland’s Matt Dishman Community Center.

But Dunn, best known for her novel “Geek Love,” had never fought for a purse until Tuesday afternoon. Dunn, 64, was carrying a bag of groceries from Trader Joe’s to the Northwest Portland home where she has lived for more than 30 years when someone yanked the purse strap on her left shoulder so hard it spun her around.

“I was facing this young woman who shouted, ‘Let it go. Let it go,’¤” Dunn said.

She did not. So, Dunn said, 25-year-old Brandy Amber Carroll kicked her in the shin and slapped her face. Dunn figured that gave her permission to put her years of training to work.

Courtesy of Multnomah CountyBrandy Amber Carroll“My left arm is wrapped up in the purse, her right arm is wrapped up in the purse, we’re nose to nose and I’m punching her as hard as I can with my right hand,” she said.

Dunn started shouting and people walking by stopped. But as soon as Dunn said she was being robbed, Carroll accused the author of trying to take her purse. So the passersby just watched. One of Dunn’s neighbors soon came out and grabbed the purse. Then two Trader Joe’s employees came to accuse the woman of shoplifting.

When police showed up soon after, Carroll took off running with some groceries, but not the purse. She didn’t get far. Carroll, who has 2006 convictions for theft and criminal mischief, was booked into Multnomah County Jail and charged with felony robbery and theft.

Dunn has loved boxing for nearly 30 years and has written articles and essays on the sport, including freelance stories for The Oregonian. She said she was proud of herself for putting her years of fight training to use, staying relatively calm and hanging on to her purse. Dunn was a little disappointed not to bloody Carroll’s nose, but pointed out she was fighting with her rear hand.

“I would normally lead, as all good boxers do, with my left hand,” she said. “But my left hand was tied up in the purse.”

Dunn was bloodied in the scuffle and had to go to the hospital for a tetanus shot.

“I had scratches from her fingernails, a bloody eye where she had thumbed me — it was a helter-skelter affair,” Dunn said. “Getting a tetanus shot, it made me feel young again.”

-- Andy Dworkin


  1. What a great story! I realize it has nothing to do with it, but it makes me totally want to read geek Love. :-)
    go Katherine Dunn!

  2. Hi,
    I just became a follower of your blog-very nicely done!
    My Parental Unit is a writing instructor and a freelance writer-but she's only done one book review.
    Please check out my blog:
    Feel free to comment and become a "Follower" and pass on to your family and friends.

  3. Geek Love was one of nephew's favorite books of last year, I have a copy just sitting here waiting to be read....

  4. Bocci -- I became a follower...and sent you a note :)


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