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.
Oh Nicole Kidman….you dare to play Grace Kelly on the silver screen? And you’re toiling away to have this book made into a screenplay? Who is advising you? That lady who got the Golden Nugget tattoo on her forehead? Alright, that’s a bit harsh. I’m sorry.
Have you ever read a book with characters so deplorable and self-involved that you couldn’t even enjoy the story because you were so distracted by the sociopaths running rampant across the pages? Well, if you haven’t had that experience just yet you will if you read The Family Fang. I wanted desperately to like this book. In my head I imagined a quirky artsy family something like Augusten Burroughs’ adopted family (but with less Santa Claus-related dysfunction) and the Royal Tenenbaums (matching tracksuits optional). Instead, I got the male and female equivalent of Scarlett O’Hara and their two emotionally damaged children.
Everyone ends up coming home at one point or another. We all find ourselves loafing on our parents’ couch, grocery shopping in their freezer, and relishing the quality two-ply toilet paper. Whether literally or emotionally, we all have moments where we just need our parents even after we’ve left the nest. Poor Annie and Buster Fang are no exception. Annie finds herself all over the internet (and not in a good way) after a stalled movie career. Buster is unrecognizable after a mishap with a potato gun. They go home at the peak of vulnerability and their parents take advantage of that in the name of art. While the ending is a well written shocker, it’s also selfish and unforgivable and downright mean.
Good luck Nicole Kidman. I hope Caleb and Camille Fang come across better onscreen on your watch than they did on the page.
For my next review….The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner.