Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New-ish Release: The Family Fang

December is my month for getting through review copies and one that I was hoping to enjoy was The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. I was sold by the comparison to The Royal Tenenbaums but sadly this book was lacking the heart that really gave that movie meaning. Though Royal Tenenbaum (the Tenenbaum patriarch for those of you who haven't seen the brilliant film but are going to get a copy and watch it tonight because there is a tiny hole in your soul that needs to be filled) frequently made bad choices and wasn't great at interpersonal relationships, he did truly love his family. The Fangs, on the other hand, were the most disturbing parents that I have ever read about.

Caleb and Camille Fang are conceptual artists whose specialty is disruption of the peace. They frequently use their children Annie and Buster (who they simply call Child A and Child B or even just A and B) as props or instigators of their art. This leads to their becoming highly dysfunctional adults. When things go truly wrong for them, they're forced to return home to the parents who screwed them up in the first place. But, as is the norm with Caleb and Camille, even this ends up being far from the comforting solace that most children would experience.

If this had been a film, I might have enjoyed it. But as a novel, it went into too much disturbing depth and was incredibly depressing and dark. Wilson is a good writer and I had no problems with his storytelling. I just wasn't a fan of the story itself. I can see though how different readers will appreciate it more than I did. I am certainly curious about Wilson's first book of stories, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. I hope the subject matter of that one is a better fit.

Trying to forget things that should never have been read,


  1. Gosh …. it sounds like it should have been great. I love the IDEA of it but I guess it didn't really work.

  2. Don't you wish you could remove the memory of certain books from your mind? I have a vague, upsetting memory of a book I got for my eleventh birthday that was about some very depressing family tragedy or something, and it made me so miserable I couldn't sleep until I threw it in the garbage. Now I kind of wish I could remember more about it (or anything about it -- all I've got is this sick wretched feeling) so I could read it again and see if it's really as awful as eleven-year-old me thought it was.

  3. Jenners - There have been a lot of rave reviews of it so maybe I was just more sensitive to some of the ideas/actions in it.

    Jenny - That sounds icky! Not a very good gift book to say the least! This was was pretty disturbing too but luckily as an adult I forget about books rather quickly. I'm hoping this one is all gone from my mind within a couple of months. ;)