BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Family FangWhat serendipitous timing that I chose to post Kevin Wilson‘s debut novel right after an interview with Jessica Hagedorn: Wilson’s next public appearance, according to this website schedule, is on September 18 at the Brooklyn Book Festival with none other than the inimitable Mz. Hagedorn! Should be quite the show …

But back to our newbie novelist (who already has an award-winning short story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, which after finishing Family must be added to the ‘not-to-be-missed’ pile!). Wilson’s imagination is uniquely bizarre – the opening lines could easily be said of his novel: “Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.”

Caleb and Camille Fang are renowned, exalted performance artists who create subversive “events” that capture the reactions of unsuspecting (unwilling) participants. Their children, Child A and Child B, occasionally also known as Annie and Buster, have grown up as an integral part of their parents’ ‘mischief.’ As they reach adulthood, however, Child A and Child B prove not to be permanent installations; Annie becomes an Oscar-nominated actress, Buster a critically acclaimed novelist.

And yet, certain events bring Annie and Buster back to the only home they’ve ever known, back to their predictably unpredictable parents. The convergence of the full Family Fang proves to be a brief reunion when Caleb and Camille announce they’re off to create one more monumental event …

Wilson’s agile plot twists are many, and just when you think you caught that last clue, he’s throwing another shocker in your path to both distract and enlighten. His writing, seemingly so relaxed and casual in tone (must be that Southern Gothic in him – his bio states he was “born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee”), is delightful and disturbing, hysterical and wrenching, ultimately ideal for slyly commandeering the sheer dysfunction that only the very best, crazy families can embody.

Life in Wilson’s Family becomes a collision of either/or choices: artist or parent, creating or parenting, children or art. With little room for negotiation, Mr. and Mrs. Fang and Child A and Child B are trapped in a wild, fantastic, shocking family saga. Lucky, lucky readers are we to get a glimpse in. One final word: WOW!

Readers: Adult

Published: 2011



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