Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Family Fang by: Kevin Wilson

Title: The Family Fang
Author: Kevin Wilson
Pages: 309
Publisher: Ecco


"The Family Fang is a comedy, a tragedy, and a tour-de-force examination of what it means to make art and survive your family....The best single word description would be brilliant."--Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto

"It's The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I'd call The Family Fang a guilty pleasure, but it's too damn smart....A total blast."--Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way

Owen King (We're All in This Together) calls author Kevin Wilson, "the unholy child of George Saunders and Carson McCullers." With his novel, The Family Fang, the Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth comes through in a BIG way, with a funny, poignant, laugh-and-cry-out-loud (sometimes at the same time) novel about the art of surviving a masterpiece of dysfunction. Meet The Family Fang, an unforgettable collection of demanding, brilliant, and absolutely endearing oddballs whose lives are risky and mischievous performance art. If the writing of Gary Shteyngart, Miranda July, Scarlett Thomas, and Charles Yu excites you, you'll certainly want to invite this Family into your home.


After Addams Family, the Fang Family was the strangest family I got the pleasure to meet.

Caleb and Camille Fang are both artists. Their daughter Annie (Child A) and son Buster (Child B) have been a part of their artwork since they were little children. They question whether or not what they're doing might just be wrong, question the meaning of art and always go back and forth between saying yes or no to taking part in their parents' public art. Don't say "so what?" because it's not like Annie and Buster are posing for paintings. It's lots, a lot more complicated than that.

Here's the type of art Caleb and Camille Fang make: they play guitar and sing a song at a mall. People are made to believe their dog is sick, and that they're doing this to collect money for his surgery. They don't know how everything's going to go, how the people around them will react to their act, and their goal is exactly that: the reactions of the passers by is their art, which is all recorded on camera.

The story-telling go back and forth between past and present. We see Annie and Buster as kids, and how Caleb and Camille Fang met and started doing what they do. When Annie grows up, she becomes an actress and moves to Hollywood; Buster becomes a writer. On one way or other, they find themselves back at home, and that's when you really start to question what it means to be parents, and what art really means. The line between Caleb Fang's genius and insanity starts getting very clear as well.

The Family Fang will make you laugh, at times it'll make you sad, and it'll definitely make you question a whole lot about the world.
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