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.
"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)
Fresh, out-of-the-box, unique.
I was intrigued and also twisted inside as the parents would use their children in various ways to create performance art.
This book was a fun find for me. It was different and unusual and really made me think all while be very enjoyable. Loved it!
Avid reader. Retired harpist Consider myself knowledgeable in the English language.
These are not likable people, however, the book is very well written and very well narrated. You find yourself cheering for the children of this odd couple to succeed in life in spite of their parents.
This was one of those can't-stop-listening stories that made me carry my iPhone around the house to keep listening. Gives new meaning to the phrase "dysfunctional family" but in an utterly original way.
There are a lot of twists and turns. The character development is very good. The take-away points about art, family, and individuality are quite deep without being preachy.
The Family Fang is a quirky tale that defies easy categorization. I listened to it twice, which I almost never do, and found the second time to be even more interesting and shocking than the first.
There is a dark, uncomfortable sort of humor throughout, that's oddly enjoyable. Think "The Loved One" or something by Muriel Spark. Although the characters themselves are truly out of the ordinary, there is something universal regarding the relationships between the grown up children "A" and "B" and their driven, bizarre parents that gives a lot of opportunity for thought.
There's also a wonderful depiction of the world of creative arts -- performance art, acting, painting and writing -- that I found fun and moving.
My book club chose this book and we had a great time discussing it. Members brought a lot of interesting personal perspectives in response to the plot line, characters and themes of The Family Fang. I can imagine that some people might find the story too odd for them to enjoy, but even though there are some very dark ideas here, there is also a positive, hopeful feel to the book that makes it much more than a just a depressing read.
Therese Plummer was a fantastic narrator. She was able to perform the parts of children, men and. women, and even did a great job singing when needed.
All in all, The Family Fang is on my best book list. I may even have to buy an actual book version of it!
Yes, just to hear the funny scenes created by the Fang family in the interest of art. I really got a chuckle out of those.
A little bit of Royal Tannenbaums, but better, there is some mystery involved, but I can't think of a movie comparison.
Plummer reads in such a way that her voice delivers the story without distraction. The listener is able to attend to the story without noticing an unusual tone of voice or odd pronunciations from the reader. She does adjust her voice to the characters, but it is subtle and effective.
The book jumps back and forth from the childhood years of the two Fang children when the family was creating art by including their children in fantastic scenes of conflict in public to the children as adults. The children have suffered psychologically due to their unusual childhoods, but then haven't we all?
Listen to this book. You will laugh out loud at inappropriate times and feel the weight of the children's' burden at others -- in fact often at the same time. You will like the children and feel for them in their efforts to emerge from the bizarre cocoon their parents wove for them. You will struggle to understand the parents and to decide whether the ends of love are worth the means. You will want to see more from this author and hear more from this narrator. This is a unique offering -- a rare treat.
can't stop thinking
can't stop laughing
The epilogue wasn't necessary--detracts from the story. Should have ended before.
What happens when a pair of successful performance artists have children, what becomes of those children, and where does it take the art? The Family Fang explores these premises with insight and humor, while remaining true to the questions it poses.
The Fangs are about as successful as performance artists can be, and when they have children (Child A and Child B) they include the children in their performance pieces. The children go along with it, as children do, but as they grow up they begin to question their participation and occasionally add their own touches, or resistance, to the pieces.
We get to know Annie and Buster as adults who have been damaged in foreseeable ways by their odd family life, and we also get to know the Fang parents as they struggle to make sense of their art without their children's participation and support.
There are plenty of deeply discussable topics---what can you ask of your children, how does this example of children working in their parents' business compare with children who work at their parents' retail business or gardening route, how do we handle our children leaving us, what does it mean to be damaged by our parents? My favorite among them is, of course, "WHAT IS ART?" which is a topic I could discuss forever.
This is an engaging story, but the performance is outstanding and I imagine that the book is much better in the audio version than by eye-to-brain. It is one of those special performances that makes it worthwhile to be part of Audible. I'm led to figure out how to search Audible's library for other stellar performances. This performance is all the more impressive because it is all done by one voice actor, rather than an ensemble.
Thanks, Audible, for introducing me to this novel.
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