The Family Fang

Kevin Wilson, Author
Kevin Wilson. Ecco, $23.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-157903-5
Reviewed on: 04/04/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-330-54274-6
Paperback - 314 pages - 978-0-06-157905-9
Paperback - 978-0-330-54534-1
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-330-54273-9
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-1-4472-0238-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4472-0411-4
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-209251-9
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Wilson's bizarre, mirthful debut novel (after his collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth) traces the genesis of the Fang family, art world darlings who make "strange and memorable things." That is, they instigate and record public chaos. In one piece, "The Portrait of a Lady, 1988," fragile nine-year-old Buster Fang dons a wig and sequined gown to undermine the Little Miss Crimson Clover beauty pageant, though he secretly desires the crown himself. In "A Modest Proposal, July 1988," Buster and his older sister, Annie, watch their father, Caleb, propose to mother, Camille, over an airliner's intercom and get turned down ("[A] plane crash would have been welcomed to avoid the embarrassment of what had happened"). Over the years, more projects consume Child A and Child B—what art lovers (and their parents) call the children—but it is not until the parents disappear from an interstate rest stop that the lines separating art and life dissolve. Though leavened with humor, the closing chapters still face hard truths about family relationships, which often leave us, like the grown-up Buster and Annie, wondering if we are constructing our own lives, or merely taking part in others'. (Aug.)
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