Wednesday, March 21, 2012

BOOK REVIEW- The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

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 Fang (or Child A and Child B as they are less than affectionately called by their parents) are the creation of performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang. Caleb exists only for his art and he has very strict criteria for what constitutes true art. Camille, his one-time student, originally wanted to be a painter but she is now committed to Caleb and his vision. Pregnancy could have been an unfortunate bump in their road, but they decided to make their children part of their art. They were "The Family Fang." Unfortunately for the children, the parents were always more concerned about the art than the family.

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.


  1. Oh, this was a book I *loved* last year. Glad you found it interesting, even if you weren't as crazy about it as I was.

  2. I totally loved Family Fang. I had some qualms with the ending, but some people have offered a plausible explanation for it which makes me much happier. Glad you didn't hate it. ;)

  3. Reading outside your box is a great thing to do every now and again. I don't think this book is for me, but I do want to read Franny and Zooey.

  4. This isn't a book I would normally be drawn to, but the reviews have been so positive I consider it each time I go to the bookstore. Glad to see you enjoyed it. I guess it's time I add it to my wish list.

  5. I agree, I like to read outside the box sometimes too. There's so many different books, it's great to see what's out there sometimes. I haven't heard of this one before, I'm not sure it would appeal to me either, but I was interested to read your review.

  6. Hello Susan,
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  7. It's totally everything. Totally original, totally absorbing, ALMOST totally believable. The author certainly is totally understanding about what kinds of damage can be done to children aside from physical abuse, but in this case, leaves us with hope and satisfaction at the close. I TOTALLY recommend it.
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