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The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang

by Kevin Wilson

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The Fangs are a family of artists, creating pandemonium in public and filming the confusion. Kind of like a four person flash mob, before there were flash mobs. Annie and Buster participate with their parents as children, but as they grow up, they grow tired of a life of hoaxes. Both children move on, but when they’re down on their luck, they come home. Their parents ask them to participate in one final artwork, but can the kids give up all they’ve worked for towards getting away from this life? Very amusing, deep, and interesting. Wilson is a must-read. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
Camille and Caleb Fang are performance artists, specializing in disruptive acts in suburban shopping malls, who have incorporated their children Annie and Buster (know as Child A and Child B) into their art. The couple's surreal view of life, not surprisingly, has taken its toll on the children's psyches. As they grow older, both try to escape, but often find themselves inexorably drawn back into their parent's dramas.

When Camille & Caleb are said to have died in a car accident, Annie and Buster wonder if they really have died, or if they are just realizing the ultimate performance piece. Their search for the truth gives Annie and Buster some surprising insights into themselves and ultimately lets them grow into their own personalities. ( )
  etxgardener | Aug 30, 2015 |
This was definitely disturbing, but yet insanely satisfying. It tells the story of a family of performance artists and explores the relationship between parents and children. Bizarre but highly entertaining. ( )
  Shiraloo | Mar 25, 2015 |
I did enjoy this novel though it took a little effort to get into it. It is about -- as I see it -- some pretty awful, if well-intentioned, narcissistic parents. Which makes it sad though I think the author attempts to keep it somewhat light. I have the feeling I am not going to remember this book for a long time. ( )
  jdukuray | Dec 30, 2014 |
This book started out with a lot of promise to be absolutely hilarious. The premise of two parents who are performance artists who incorporate their children into their chaotic public performances had the capacity to be a great tale.

It began to dissipate very quickly as their children, now grown, were an alcoholic actress and a marginally successful but socially awkward writer who were both forced to return home to stay with their parents.

Halfway through the story, the parents disappear and the children are forced to decide if this is a piece of performance art or if the disappearance is genuine. Through a series of events of their own doing and some unplanned, they learn that their parents mentor originally told the Fang parents that "kids kill art" in an effort to discourage them from having kids.

His conclusion in the end is that the type of art that the Fangs perform, kills kids. Both of the Fang children have been socially and emotionally damaged through the years. I remained hopeful to the end, only to find the Fang parents telling the children that they had no intention of staying in touch with them and that their disappearance was yet another piece of performance art.

For anyone who has lived through a chaotic childhood, this book will bring up either great memories or bad feelings depending on where you are at with your own development. This is an ok book, not a great one. ( )
  ozzieslim | Dec 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (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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It is grotesque how they go on
loving us, we go on loving them
The effrontery, barely imaginable,
of having caused us. And of how.
Their lives: surely
we can do better than that.
"It wasn't real; it was a stage set, a stagy stage set."
For Leigh Anne
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Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.
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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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