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The Family Fang: A Novel Hardcover – August 9, 2011
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Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art.
Their children called it mischief.
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist's work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world.
When the lives they've built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance-their magnum opus-whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what's ultimately more important: their family or their art.
Filled with Kevin Wilson's endless creativity, vibrant prose, sharp humor, and keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another, The Family Fang is a masterfully executed tale that is as bizarre as it is touching.
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- The premise for this book is original- a family of performance artists who subject their kids to some crazy stuff. They then grow up and run away from their problematic lives back to their parents' house where they find anything but solace.
- I generally don't love time shifts, but for this book alternating between Annie and Buster's childhood and the present worked.
- It really is a mystery, especially towards the end. You think you know how it will work out, and you end up being partially right, but yet so very, very wrong.
- The characters are great, whether it's Caleb, the father, with a one-track mind, poor Buster with his deformed face (never let someone shoot beer cans off your head with a potato gun), or even Hobart, their old mentor.
- It kept my interested throughout; a careful mix of character study and plot.
- It made me question what exactly art is, and what my personal definition for it. Ultimately, there is no answer; just like art in general, I think our perceptions of what make art art constantly change.
- It's an eccentric novel; it's quite provocative, but it's far from mainstream.
- You might not like the characters; you don't have to! Characters can be good without making the reader want to be best friends with them.
Definitely a good read.
The children outgrow the family dramas and head out into the world themselves where they try to succeed and end up failing in an epic way by making really dumb choices. For example: Being the target of a potato bomb or sleeping with someone who is interviewing you for Esquire magazine.
Children A and B return home to realize that Caleb and Camille have become more ingrained in themselves and their art yet are oblivious to how society has changed and doesn't react to their art they way Caleb and Camille had hoped.
So Caleb and Camille vanish under mysterious circumstances and the children forge forward trying to determine whether their parents are playing at art again or if this is real scenario. Who are the adults here? How will their past and this journey to find their parents impact Annie and Buster?
One key element I found fascinating is the betrayal Caleb and Camille felt as their children left home. Is this something all parents feel to some degree? Is this healthy? How do you deal with the little birds that fledged the nest.
I love the pace of this book and the writing. The imagination that went into this novel is incredible. This book was a fun page turner with surprises at every turn.