Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson~★★★

Title: The Family Fang
Author: Kevin Wilson
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when 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."

Taryn's Review: I saw a blurb about this book in some magazine and I thought I'd give it a try. The book was mainly focused from the perspective of Annie and Buster, or Child A and Child B as they were referred to in their parents' art pieces.

I had trouble connecting with this book from the get-go. I understood that Annie and Buster were supposed to have been damaged from their experience growing up as "art," but Annie was an Oscar-nominated actress in Los Angeles who was doing well until she made some choices that hurt her professionally. Buster wrote an acclaimed novel and a poorly-reviewed novel; he stagnated for a while and did freelance work for a magazine until he ran out of money and got hit in the face by a potato gun. The two siblings found themselves back at their parents' house after their misfortunes.

The family had done bizarre acts together through the children's lives, but in the same breath, the Fangs were so family-oriented that it was slightly impressive. It could be argued that without their backgrounds in the Fang family, Annie and Buster may not have had had the successful careers they enjoyed. The twist in the story line came in the middle of the book and it was a great twist. However, the more it drug out, the less interested I became. Once the twist was foiled, the outcome seemed incredibly unbelievable to me; I felt sad and angry with the book.

The book is dark. I read some reviews where people said they enjoyed the dark humor, but it must have went over my head because I did not laugh during this book. Wilson isn't a bad writer at all, but as a whole the book's story was mediocre in keeping in my attention. I could sympathize with Annie and Buster, yet their view of being victims in their parents' work was a bit extreme for me to get on board with. Wilson has another novel that I wouldn't hesitate to pick up, but this book was just an okay read for me.

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