Monday, April 2, 2012

"The Family Fang" by Kevin Wilson

I did not have great expectations the first time I checked out The Family Fang. I'd seen a good review somewhere and added it to my list without paying much attention. Mr. Wilson's first novel then spent three weeks getting bumped lower and lower on the To Read pile until, finally, it was due the next day.

I freely admit that the title had me thinking it was yet another vampire book (specifically, The Radleys by Matt Haig). You can imagine my surprise when I finally opened to the first chapter and found, not a family drama about blood sucking, but a family drama about performance art.

I loved the forty or so pages I was able to read before reluctantly having to return the book for the next person on the holds list. When the end of year Best of 2011 lists started to come out, and "The Family Fang" showed up, I really kicked myself. And then I placed another hold.

There are many parts to this novel that I loved. Every other chapter is an account of an Event; one of the insane art pieces created by the Fangs and their children. The opposite chapters tell of the Fang children's, Buster and Annie's, lives as adults, and how profoundly their childhoods have screwed them up.

I adored the dark humor of this book, and the chapter about the chicken coupons was one of the funniest things I've ever read. I found myself entirely invested in Annie and Buster's quest to understand their parents final artistic event, but I was somewhat disappointed by how things wrapped up (vague, I know, but I don't want to spoil anyone).

I'll definitely be adding Kevin Wilson's first work, a short story collection called Tunneling to the Center of the Earth that was awarded a Shirley Jackson Award in 2009, to my To Be Read list.

~Sarah, Adult Services

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