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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.
Filled with Kevin Wilson's endless creativity, vibrant prose, sharp humor, and keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another, The Family Fang is a masterfully executed tale that is as bizarre as it is touching.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amanda on 11-18-11
Beautiful, Heart-wrenching, Shocking.
In my opinion, this book is more of an art project than a novel. I remember sitting on a bench in a large gallery in the Louvre. The large, framed painting hung on the wall in front of me showed a scene of ANOTHER large gallery in ANOTHER museum, with some OTHER people sitting on a bench, looking at the painting in front of THEM...
This book is like that. It’s a story of a married couple that are performance artists. They spend their lives trying to manipulate people into being upset and uncomfortable. The fact that their parents do this makes our main characters (the couple’s children) upset, and uncomfortable. As a result of this, and in experiencing how this repeatedly hurts these vulnerable, damaged kids, it is now the you, the reader, who will become upset, and uncomfortable.
What does home and family really mean? If qualities such as loyalty, constancy, and a sense of safety are absent, does it cease to truly BE home and family? At what point do you have the right to walk away? And if you believe you have earned that right... is it even possible to do so?
These questions rise to the surface as Annie and Buster, now grown from damaged kids to damaged adults find themselves with nowhere to turn but the very childhood home that damaged them in the first place. When something happens that could be a tragedy, the siblings have to ask themselves; is the tragedy actually a reality? Or is it just another presentation of their parents art? If their parents ARE behind the events, isn’t that just as tragic? Their parents have manipulated the siblings into being unwitting, living props so many times, they no longer know the difference between what’s real, and what’s “pretend”. As a reader of the book, I came to the conclusion that there was no difference at all between the two.
Through all of this however, the underlining foundation of the book was of love; the true, deep, abiding love of two siblings. It was beautiful.
The dénouement left me feeling a little dead inside, sad, and very tired; but the author was kind enough to spend the last 15 minutes of the story gentling moving us back to solid ground, ending the story with a safe place to land before he leaves you. I was extremely grateful for that.
This book is not for everyone. Some will not find the humor funny, or the underlining themes interesting. For some readers, the author’s attempt at making YOU uncomfortable will be so successful you’ll hate the book.. In the end, I was glad I read it. I found it very thought provoking, and utterly original. The narration was also top rate, and I’ll be looking out for more of the narrator’s work.
I’m looking forward to seeing future reviews on this book to read what others thought of this difficult, but very worthwhile, story.
29 of 31 people found this review helpful
By B. Westman on 11-30-11
I grabbed this novel on a whim because it was featured on a banner ad when I came to the Audible site. I am SO glad I did. This story is very well written and the characters are unique and competently developed. The story is interesting and often unpredictable, which makes it enjoyable all the way to the end.
And I have found a new narrator! Up until now, Davina Porter has been my favorite narrator due to her ability to really manipulate voices and bring a variety of characters to lfe with her voice. Therese Plummer is spectacular at this. She really breathes life into this already good novel and give you a cast of characters, each unique in their own voices. This book, unlike most that I've read or listened to, had a complete ending. When the story was over, I was done. I didn't have questions, I didn't wish it would go on...the story was over. And I liked that. It left me free to appreciate it and move on to the next book in my library with a sense of closure.
This one is definitely worth the credit.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful