Monday, October 8, 2012
The Family Fang: A Novel by Kevin Wilson
Annie and Buster Fang have spent most of their adult lives trying to distance themselves from their famous artist parents, Caleb and Camille. But when a bad economy and a few bad personal decisions converge, the two siblings have nowhere to turn but their family home. Reunited under one roof for the first time in more than a decade and surrounded by the souvenirs of their unusual upbringing, Buster and Annie are forced to confront not only their creatively ambitious parents, but the chaos and confusion of their childhood.
What the frack just happened? I literally just put down this book and I'm stumped. The ending is not what I expected at all. Then again, I'm not really all that surprised if I think about. It does make sense and fit in with the continuity of the character's personalities, and yet, for some reason, I'm still a bit confounded by it. Hmmm. Not sure what to think. I do know that I enjoyed reading the book and when I got to the end I became even more engrossed.
The Family Fang is about art. It really is. Now, yes, there is a bit about a rising movie star, a brother whose face gets shot by a potato gun, and a mother and father art duo who go missing; but at the core of it all, art is the one thing that ties the whole story, characters and everything else, together. You see, Caleb and Camille Fang are artists - it is the reason that they go on living. Their children, Buster and Annie (or as they are referred to in their parents' artwork, A or B) are not artists - Annie is an actress and Buster is a writer. Throughout their childhood, Annie and Buster participated in their parents' art, which pretty much consisted of Camille and Caleb causing scenes at malls, restaurants, museums, etc. and videotaping it all. They were highly respected and rather well known in the art community for their work, and even won a MacArthur grant, but over time, interest in their work dwindled and they were no longer producing art as they once had before. Their children left home to pursue their own careers and lives - Annie found some success and got nominated for an Oscar, while Buster's first novel was critically praised. However, happiness can be short lived and for the Fang children it was. The sophomore slump kicked Buster's ass to the point that he was no longer working on novels, but instead producing bit pieces for papers and magazines about ex-soldiers shooting potato guns. Annie's acting gigs were not pushing her in the right direction, instead she was walking around topless on set and getting 'outed' by tabloids. Life was becoming rather difficult and expensive for the Fang children, so they decided to head back home to their parents' house in search of refuge. Of course, no one ever expects to move back home once they grow up and become an adult, so suffice it to say, the Fang children aren't that happy to be living with their parents again. And, it seems that Caleb and Camille aren't too excited about having A and B around either.
Lots of up and downs happen to the Fangs once they are reunited. New jobs appear, secrets are revealed and the idea of a 'dysfunctional family' reaches a whole other level. Plus, art is definitely a lot more abstract than even I had imagined. This book will have you wondering about how far people are willing to go for the sake of their art (or whatever passion it is they hold dear to their heart). You will find yourself being dismayed, discomfited, awed, and shocked at times, but all the while, you will be eager to find out what happens next.
Kevin Wilson has created a well written story that is interesting, engaging and unforgettable. I promise that you will not be disappointed!
And now, I'm off to read Wuthering Heights - which I am absolutely loving!