Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists. They live to create their performance pieces; nothing in their lives is more important. Their two children, Annie and Buster Fang, seem to be nothing more to them than pieces on a chessboard to be moved around and manipulated to create the most shocking effects. They even identify the children as nothing more than Child A and Child B. The Fang artistic touchstone is controlled chaos. They go into a setting such as a mall, create a chaotic situation, then record the reactions of the bystanders.
But children grow up. Buster and Annie are now grown and both feel damaged by their upbringing. Annie is an up-and-coming actress with a couple of movies to her credit. Buster has written two novels. But both are self-destructive in varying ways and can’t seem to put together a constructive life or relationships that are meaningful. The only lasting relationship they have is with each other, as they basically raised themselves and always felt that only their sibling was in their corner to rely on.

As the book opens, both Annie and Buster have moved back home. Buster has been injured while writing a freelance magazine article while Annie has fled several destructive relationships and bad choices. Home feels familiar, but soon Caleb and Camille start trying to draw them back into performing their latest ideas. Both children resist, fighting against the ties they can’t help but feel for their parents, but knowing that giving in will only damage their self-esteem more deeply.

Kevin Wilson has created a dark, offbeat family comedy that outlines the damage that parents can do to their children when they don’t place them as a priority. Early ties are almost impossible to overcome, and damage done early is long-lasting. The characters are well-drawn; the madness of the parents outlined and then fleshed out. The reader can’t help but cheer on Buster and Annie as they attempt to break free and find happiness in their own lives. This book is recommended for readers looking for a great read. The story is compelling and it is difficult to put down the story without determining what will happen to the characters. This is a debut novel and Kevin Wilson is a new literature superstar.

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