Book Mini-Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
I picked up The Family Fang at my library’s used book sale a few months ago. I had never heard of it, but was intrigued by the cover and the synopsis on the back of the book. Since I am trying to read more books that I already own but haven’t gotten around to reading (#theunreadshelfproject2018), I decided to pick this one up. Annie and Buster Fang are the children of famous performance artists, Caleb and Camille Fang. Growing up, Annie and Buster were included in the these Fang events, as Child A and Child B. But over time, they grew to resent their parents for their bizarre childhood. So Annie moved to Los Angeles to become an actress, and Buster moved to Florida to be a writer. Yet when Annie and Buster need a fresh start, they go home to Caleb and Camille’s after ten years and must deal with their issues. The Family Fang flips back and forth between present time and different Fang events over the years.
Honestly, I am not sure how I feel about this book. I have read my fair share of dysfunctional family books, so the genre is nothing new. But this is one of the few that I’ve read where I truly am baffled by how messed up the family dynamics are. Caleb and Camille always think about the art and not how their art has affected their children. Caleb’s mentor, Hobart Waxman, always said “kids kill art”, but when Annie and Buster contact Hobart about their parents, Hobart said that Caleb and Camille made the inverse true, that art kills kids. Annie and Buster have enormous trouble having normal interactions with others, especially in group situations, because they are always concerned with how they are supposed to act and react. I found the plot and storyline very well done, but I had a hard time accepting what terrible parents Caleb and Camille were. Obviously, this leads to excellent conflict and thus the whole novel, but I am so grateful that I was not raised in that environment. Thanks Mom and Dad.
I enjoyed this book, but did not love it. Apparently, there is a movie version with Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman as Annie and Buster, and Christopher Walken is Caleb, which is the most accurate and perfect casting decision. I am interested to watch the movie just to see how some of the Fang art events were depicted. I give the book 3 stars.
What are your favorite dysfunctional family novels?