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The Family Fang

by Kevin Wilson

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1,3087311,637 (3.61)91
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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» See also 91 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
"He found something he could do. He could create conflict. He could see it through to the end. And when it was over, he was the only one left unharmed. He was, he decided without anyone else telling him, a writer."
  roseandisabella | Mar 18, 2022 |
The Fang Family starts out with a family so extremely bizarre it is almost unbelievable. But Kevin Wilson knows how to convey feelings in his characters that are so real a reader can’t help but believe the unbelievable is true.

A story about family and art, pragmatism and idealism, dreams-come-true and nightmares realized, The Fang Family will leave you wondering if there are any families immune to the wish-fulfillment of parents who either orchestra their lives around their children or force their children to orchestrate their lives around their parents.
( )
  AngelaLam | Feb 8, 2022 |
A silly escape novel with so much creativity. I admire authors who take risks like Wilson. ( )
  JanEPat | Dec 7, 2021 |
Full discloser - I didn't finish it. I wasn't enjoying it so I put it down. (Life's too short to read the wrong books...)

So much promise! So disappointing. It first struck me here:
“That does not surprise me,' Annie said and once again hung up the phone thinking that she had chosen to surround herself with people who were, for lack of a better term, retarded.”

Retarded. The term seemed completely out of place with the type of humour to that point. Who still thinks it's funny to call people that, in a book or otherwise? Who or what was this character supposed to be? A frat-bro from the 90s? Then I realized I was already uncomfortable with the depiction of how unpleasant the bits were for the kids.

I didn't feel like reading about crazy self-centered parents and how they turned their daughter into someone horrible. I though it would be zany and thought-provoking, not awkward and unsettling, with nothing redeemable about the first few chapters. So I put it down. Not my thing, apparently, though it was highly recommended to me. ( )
  shmerica | Dec 6, 2021 |
This is a rather interesting story about family disconnection and empathy. A pair of siblings with some very peculiar parents. The manner in which the family accounts for time with each other, particularly the parents kind of makes you wonder why they have so much time on their hands and just what their contribution to society is. Apparently they are quite mad and determined to bring their adult children down with them. Maybe I am being insensitive to the plight of the family as a whole. But I think not. Or maybe it just brings out the fact that even though children look up to their parents and as children we put them on a pedestal where they can do no wrong. But as anyone with children of any age will tell you. We all fall off that pedestal a million times in our lifetime and despite the fact that we may try to hide it from our children…..they will soon to experience that not so weightless fall from grace. Family Fang is a well written and poignant journey through the eyes of ourselves under the eyes of our children. A good read. ( )
  Joe73 | Oct 20, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (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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Epigraph
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.
—WILLIAM MEREDITH, "PARENTS"
"It wasn't real; it was a stage set, a stagy stage set."
—DOROTHY B. HUGHES, IN A LONELY PLACE
Dedication
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.

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