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The Family Fang: A Novel Hardcover – August 9, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: For outré performance artists, Caleb and Camille Fang, everything in life is secondary to art, including their children. Annie and Buster (popularly known as Child A. and Child B.) are the unwilling stars of their parents’ chaotically subversive work. Art is truly a family affair for the Fangs. Years later, their lives in disarray, Annie and Buster reluctantly return home in search of sanctuary—only to be caught up in one last performance. The Family Fang sparkles with Kevin Wilson’s inventive dialogue and wonderfully rendered set-pieces that capture the surreal charm of the Fang’s most notable work. With this brilliant novel, the family Fang is destined to join the families Tenenbaum and Bluth as paragons of high dysfunction.--Shane Hansanuwat
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Wilson's bizarre, mirthful debut novel (after his collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth) traces the genesis of the Fang family, art world darlings who make "strange and memorable things." That is, they instigate and record public chaos. In one piece, "The Portrait of a Lady, 1988," fragile nine-year-old Buster Fang dons a wig and sequined gown to undermine the Little Miss Crimson Clover beauty pageant, though he secretly desires the crown himself. In "A Modest Proposal, July 1988," Buster and his older sister, Annie, watch their father, Caleb, propose to mother, Camille, over an airliner's intercom and get turned down (" plane crash would have been welcomed to avoid the embarrassment of what had happened"). Over the years, more projects consume Child A and Child B—what art lovers (and their parents) call the children—but it is not until the parents disappear from an interstate rest stop that the lines separating art and life dissolve. Though leavened with humor, the closing chapters still face hard truths about family relationships, which often leave us, like the grown-up Buster and Annie, wondering if we are constructing our own lives, or merely taking part in others'. (Aug.)
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Top customer reviews
I love Nicole Kidman and how she can bring such diverse characters to life and Jason Bateman is an actor I enjoy a lot as well.
I did enjoy the novel... it's definitely an original concept of selfish narcissistic bad parenting like no other story I've seen or read before.
I could definitely see Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman and Christopher Walken played as these characters.
I'm incredible curious to see the visual version and kudos to the author for his imagination in this story.
I described this to a friend while reading as "a Wes Anderson movie in book form." The characters are delightfully insane without losing their realness, and the plot not only kept me guessing about the Fangs' disappearance but also waddling in how *I* wanted it to turn out. It's a rare book that can keep me that invested in there outcome along with being alternately laugh-out-loud funny and poignant. I'll give absolutely anything else this author writes a shot
Caleb and Camille Fang are parents to Annie and Buster, or "Child A" and "Child B". They are performance artist who stage elaborate (and often hilarious) pranks in the name of art, using their children as props. Sometimes Annie and Buster are in on the plan, but often they are only aware that something bad is going to happen - their anxiety and their natural reactions, usually filmed and screened later, are part of the "art". Needless to say, this is cruel and leads to less than healthy adult psyches for Annie and Buster, who grow up to be a Hollywood actress and a writer, respectively.
Although this doesn't sound funny, it truly is, and it is mostly written from the perspectives of Annie and Buster, shifting from their childhood to the present - Buster is recovering from being shot in the face by a potato gun and Annie is hiding out from some bad PR moves in Hollywood, when their parents go missing; blood is found, the pattern is similar to that of other crimes in the area. Are Caleb and Camille staging something, or are they really dead? Annie and Buster have a unique shared "Fang" experience, and a love/hate relationship with the upbringing that made them who they are and also screwed them up (kind of like we all do, but on a much grander scale).