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The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang (2011)

by Kevin Wilson

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I grabbed this book from a free e-book site, and well, it was free. From the author's credentials, this seems to be literary fiction. From the cover copy, it seems to be a comedy. I didn't find it funny (tastes differ) and frankly, it seemed pointless. I'm guessing it's a satire of a certain type of performance artist, and if I had more contacts in that world, I'd be more amused. In general - don't bother. ( )
  teckelvik | Mar 23, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book way more than I expected - I'd like to give it 4.5 stars. It was offbeat, funny and the characters were so eccentric. I look forward to reading more from Kevin Wilson. ( )
  susan.h.schofield | Mar 22, 2014 |
This was a really refreshing and unique read. By way of old commercial cliche "If you liked the Royal Tenenbaums you'll love The Family Fang". There was so much to discover in this book. There are books within the book as well as movie plots and crazy plot acts. A tale of family like no other. I have not read anything like this in a long time.

I preferred this to Mr. Wilson's short story collection, Tunneling To The Center of the Earth. But if you enjoyed this - pick it up it is worth reading. ( )
  dms02 | Feb 27, 2014 |
Awesome. I really love this author. He does such a great job with small details. This family is so weird, and so real. This book hooked me. ( )
  javagg | Jan 22, 2014 |
I am temporarily stranded in Nashville, TN. Well, there aren't many great things I can say about Nashville (good bbq, inconvenient if you don't have a car [I don't have a car], some nice people, some annoying people, NOT "Athens of the South," whatever that may mean, though there is that giant replica in the park of the Parthenon, bus stops too close to the shoulder-less roads, bus drivers who will drive on by even though you are standing at the bus stop, practically risking your life, weird summer weather and tonados, some good music, a lot of bad music...) But there are some things that help me survive here. One of them is certainly Parnassus, Ann Patchett (and her business partner)'s bookstore, the ONLY indie bookstore here. So it was at Parnassus that I picked up Wilson's short story collection. I really enjoyed that book, so in my next visit to the bookstore, I picked up The Family Fang.

Wilson writes well with an easy flow and good dialog. Perhaps what I like most about his writing is his ability to create characters that say and do different things, characters that seem real, separate entities, and not just different voices from one head. The fascination of the Fang parents with disaster and chaos makes for an entertaining and very interesting plot driver, though at times the subtlety is lost and Wilson seems to be repeating himself. This does not take away from the writing, however, since it is the main focus of the trauma of the Fang children, the one thing that they just have to move on from to be happier in life.

Perhaps the best thing about reading The Family Fang was that I read most of it in the mall. I have not been to a mall in over 14 years, I think, but once you find yourself stranded in Nashville without a car and within a 2-minute bus ride from the mall, where there is a movie theater (though no bookstore!), well, you end up spending some time in the weird, perfumed labyrinth of stores. And oh, how much I wished that the Fang family would create some sort of chaos in the middle of this very disturbingly-mundane and posh mall. How I wished for a woman to steal jelly beans from the candy store and for thousands of little beans to bounce on the cool, marble mall floor... How I wished for a spot to bring my very own free chicken sandwich coupon...

So, Caleb and Camille, wherever you are, please, please come back to TN, and consider visiting the Green Hills mall one of these days! ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Somewhere between those happy families that Tolstoy felt were all alike and the unhappy families he claimed were unhappy in their own ways lie the quirky families we all love....With their eccentric relatives always up to crazy shenanigans, this vast fictional genealogy reflects our conflicted embarrassment and affection for the people who raised us....It’s a delightfully odd story about the adult children of a pair of avant-garde performance artists. Since leaving home, Annie and Buster Fang have done everything they can to avoid their parents’ outlandish behavior, but self-destructive wackiness seems to run in their genes. ..the poignant truth Wilson captures beneath the humor of this peculiar family: Our crazy parents’ offenses sometimes loom so large that we don’t realize just what they did for us until it’s too late. Here, in the pages of this droll novel, is a chance to come home and make up.
But Mr. Wilson, though he writes wittily about various outré Fang performance pieces, resists putting too much emphasis on the family gimmick. These events have names (the kids’-singing-angers-heckler bit is loftily called “The Sound and the Fury”) and dates and artistic goals. But they also have consequences. That’s what makes this novel so much more than a joke.

Mr. Wilson explores the damage inflicted on children raised in an atmosphere that is intentionally confusing. ...Although Mr. Wilson sometimes hints too neatly at where his book is headed, he manages to make the final stages genuinely shocking. This last part of “The Family Fang” packs a wallop because the rest of the book has been so quirky and seemingly light. But the stakes in the Fang war of wills get higher as the book proceeds, and they move from the specific to the universal.
A Delightful Portrait Of The Screwball 'Family Fang...That's why it's such a minty fresh delight to open up Kevin Wilson's debut novel, The Family Fang, and feel the revitalizing blast of original thought, robust invention, screwball giddiness....a family story that's out-of-the-box, and funny, and, also, genuinely moving. Wilson's inventive genius never stops for a rest break. ..Wilson might as well have been writing a review for his own strange and wonderful novel, for The Family Fang indeed reads as a work of "choreographed spontaneity" that will linger in your mind long after the mall has closed and the mess in the restaurant has been cleaned up.
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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. The novel displays a keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another.… (more)

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