This is Lacey Fullerton with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out. Today, I am recommending Kevin Wilson’s 2011 novel, The Family Fang.
The Fang family consists of Caleb and Camille and their two grown children, Annie and Buster. Caleb and Camille are performance artists, but what they call art, most would call painful public chaos. For example, one of their art pieces involved Caleb proposing marriage to Camille on a packed airplane. When Camille says “no” to his romantic gesture, they sit and revel in the airplane’s uncomfortable silence for the rest of the journey. Another of their so-called performance pieces involved dressing a young Buster as a girl for a beauty pageant and waiting until he had won the crown before having him rip off his wig and dress to the horror of the judges and pageant parents.
The novel begins with a grown up Buster returning home to be with his parents after an accident involving a potato gun and some drunken veterans in Nebraska. He pleads with Annie, now a successful actress, to join him at their parent’s home in Tennessee. Grudgingly, she joins him and they soon find themselves once again swept up in the chaotic life of Caleb and Camille Fang.
Though their children are now grown with careers of their own, Caleb and Camille are eager to once again create art with their children. Throughout the novel, Buster and Annie must come to terms with their dysfunctional upbringing in order to have futures where they can be themselves, not just the children of Caleb and Camille Fang.
If you like the films of Wes Anderson, give the The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson a try. Check out this darkly comedic novel and other quirky titles like it at the Sioux City Public Library.