The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson is not the type of book I usually pick up off the bookstore shelf – contemporary dysfunctional family fiction. But it was receiving rave reviews a few months back and I was intrigued by the descriptions. I put my name on the library wait list and this past weekend it was finally my turn.
Annie and Buster are now adults. Annie is an actress, a good one, but her career is careening out of control. Buster is a writer. He wrote one good book and one bad one. Now he freelances and things are not going well. In desperate straits, the adult children move home. They have no intention of being sucked back in to their parents’ "art," but Caleb and Camille have one more piece in the works and it’s necessary that the children do their part, one way or another.
Scenes from the current day are interwoven with flashbacks from the past. The past consists of anecdotes – painful images of performance pieces that leave no doubt why the kids are so messed up. In fact, that they are doing as well as they are can only be attributed to the loving, supportive relationship between the siblings. That relationship gives the book heart and makes the read worthwhile.
It’s a quick book, interesting, and to me, an original one, although the originality could be due to the fact that I don’t usually read books in this genre. It did put me in mind very slightly of Franny and Zooey by Salinger – but only because I read Franny and Zooey recently enough for it to be sticking in my mind and it also featured close-knit messed up siblings who reunite in their parents’ home and help each other through rough times. Franny and Zooey was more moving. This book was more ironic. It was a little too over the top for me to feel any real emotional investment in the characters, but it was something different and every once in a while, I like to read out of my box.