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The Family Fang | [Kevin Wilson]

The Family Fang

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.
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Publisher's Summary

Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.

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.

©2011 Kevin Wilson (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The Family Fang sparkles with Kevin Wilson’s inventive dialogue and wonderfully rendered set-pieces that capture the surreal charm of the Fang’s most notable work. With this brilliant novel, the family Fang is destined to join the families Tenenbaum and Bluth as paragons of high dysfunction." (Amazon.com review; Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (691 )
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3.7 (588 )
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4.0 (590 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ed Stark Valencia, CA United States 12-21-11
    Ed Stark Valencia, CA United States 12-21-11 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great dry humor: great reading"
    What did you love best about The Family Fang?

    This is a really funny and ridiculous book, esp. if you know your contemporary/performance art. Characters are really well described and plot keeps you interested.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Buster Fang, because he's so hapless. He's the absurd underdog you just can't resist.


    What does Therese Plummer bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Dry reading is perfect for these jokes, but the reading is also just right. I especially liked how she read the part of Camilla Fang, who had some truly enigmatic responses.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Family Fang and why?

    All good.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like Sedaris, you might like this novel. It's not essays, but humor works in some of the same ways.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 12-12-11
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 12-12-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    2
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    "Weird... but good."

    Very ... interesting story. I didn't *love* it, but enjoyed it well enough. The author did a great job developing the characters, and I really felt for child "a" and child "b." An interesting look at what constitutes "art" and the effect it (and Caleb and Camille) has on the Fang's children.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret 12-10-11
    Margaret 12-10-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    23
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    5
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    "Quirky redefined!"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. I can't think of a friend who I believe would enjoy it.


    What could Kevin Wilson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It is probably perfect for someone who wants to read about intentional dysfunction, chaos without payoff, and a random acts of unkindness. Randomness can be charming, but in this case I found it unembracable.


    Which character – as performed by Therese Plummer – was your favorite?

    The whacked out psycho mom. Her pathetic character is so well defined.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd pass. Life is too short for so-so books.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ralph California 12-15-11
    Ralph California 12-15-11 Member Since 2015
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    "very creative but unsettling"

    I liked this book a lot! But the parents, as parents, were very unsettling. Even though I really liked this book, I am still undecided if it would not have been a stronger and better ending to NOT have included the final chapter. Before the final chapter, the story built up to such a poignant and emotionally powerful place. The resolution of A & B???s lives in the last chapter, although forward looking and hopeful, at least for me, dulled the emotional ???edge??? created in the climactic scene.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew M. Collins Baltimore, MD USA 12-21-11
    Andrew M. Collins Baltimore, MD USA 12-21-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Original voice plus an excellent performance"

    Wilson's is a really original approach to the family dysfunction novel, through the metaphor of performance art. A refreshingly creative achievement. The narrator is exceptionally good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 11-16-13
    Rebecca 11-16-13 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Kevin Wilson puts the fun into dysfunction"

    Loved the Fangs - Caleb and Camille Fang create bizarre performance arts, and then get their two children - A and B (Annie and Buster) into the mayhem. The children grow up and both make a series of bad decisions causing them to try to return home. Funny, quick read.

    If you like quirky - you'll enjoy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-05-13
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-05-13 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Eh. Wouldn't Recommend"

    i think Therese Plummer narrated this just fine. but the book itself couldn't be saved by a good narrator.

    so, kevin wilson writes really well. simple but lovely prose, with just enough emotion. the relationship between buster and annie was very intense and touching and beautiful. annie was a great character...truly and understandably f'ed up...and very interesting in the way that great characters are. i think that her character would have been so much better in a different story -- then i think -- if she wasn't in this story, she wouldn't be who she is -- then i think i'm thinking too much about it, so i stop.

    anyway...there are also some struggles i had with this story. i truly disliked camille and caleb fang. so much. from the first moment i read about them. it was so difficult for me to embrace them as characters. they were unbelievable. they were loathsome. the art they produced was dumb. and i don't think that they, as written in this story, would have gotten to the level of popularity that they achieved in this story. i also think that the "resolution" with caleb and camille towards the end of the book is very abrupt and i don't understand it at all.

    overall, the story is well written...and i guess it evokes emotion in me and so that it's successful in that way, but i didn't actually enjoy listening to it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie 02-03-13
    Marjorie 02-03-13 Member Since 2014

    Love this site! I have a very busy job, so listening to audio books enables me to keep up on great stories!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Art, mischief, parents I wanted to punch..."
    Would you listen to The Family Fang again? Why?

    Yes, but not for some time. I had a very difficult time with the family reunion at the end.


    What other book might you compare The Family Fang to and why?

    Not a book, but a movie. The Family Fang is very similar to Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tennenbaums." The themes are very similar, that oddball humor that I LOVE, the overall wackadoo tone. LOVE LOVE LOVE.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Oh man, the "Kill All Parents" performance art scene had me almost driving off the road because I couldn't stop laughing! SO good!


    If you could take any character from The Family Fang out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Let's change the question. How about, if I could punch any character from The Family Fang in the face, who would it be? Answer: CALEB. And then I'd go find Camille and punch her in the face. And then I'd call it art. Seriously, not just the worst parents ever, but how about worst people ever! SO self absorbed and truth be told, cruel. Ooo they made me mad. Here's the thing. I LOVE the idea of performance art. Of course not all of the projects were winners. But there was a lot of fun in the art. Making it a family affair is great. And family should come first. But the idea of "the only thing that matters is art," really pisses me off. I won't go into details so I don't spoil anything, but let me say that the "final project" made me livid, stunned, hurt. Good writing, by the way. I felt like I was being told the details of the project in person.


    Any additional comments?

    VERY happy I got this book! I LOVED IT!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara de Garcia Silver Spring, MD United States 12-19-12
    Barbara de Garcia Silver Spring, MD United States 12-19-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
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    0
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    "Pointless"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Probably nothing. The story was so annoying.


    What could Kevin Wilson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Had decent performance art. The Fangs' was just boring.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Her boy's voice was annoying.


    What character would you cut from The Family Fang?

    the parents


    Any additional comments?

    I have no idea why this book got awards. I am not a fan of performance art but these performance artists were so lame. I couldn't wait for the book to end (I listened to the audiobook) and because I bought it, was determined to get to the end. It just seemed totally pointless.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nina 09-05-12
    Nina 09-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Truly creative"

    This is one of the most creative stories I have read in a long time. So often, creativity in novels takes the form of novel literary devices and little else. Here, it is the story itself that is so unusual and so truly "new" feeling. The narrator is also excellent and well-suited to the author's writing style.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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