Monday, November 28, 2011
The Family Fang
For as long as Buster and Annie can remember, their parents have been weird. They could have coped if their parents had been the normal kind of weird that most kids complain about. You know, like wearing black socks with sandals or arguing in public. Instead they were stuck with the kind of weird parents called public performing artists who created mayhem and chaos in public places just to watch other people’s reactions and record it as art. Which was fine when it was just Caleb and Camille Fang creating public scenes, but it seemed that the only reason they had their children was just to use them as props their parents’ performance pieces? Or at least, that’s the way Buster and Annie felt.
For as long as they can remember, the children starred in their parents' madcap pieces, but now that they are adults, they are having a hard time coping in a normal world. When Annie and Buster make a series of bad decisions that affect their careers and their lives, they have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance – whether the kids want to help or not. Can Annie and Buster cope with what they see as the ultimate betrayal, or will they understand that for their parents, art is more important than they are?
If you like to squirm uncomfortably while reading your novels, then this book is for you. Chapters alternate between the circumstances surrounding the past performance pieces, where young Annie and Buster are reluctant and sometimes resistant participants, to current situations involving adult Annie and Buster, who find themselves still reluctant and resistant to playing the same game with their parents. This odd and compelling novel will leave you with a lot of conflicted feelings and moral questions about parental love and damaged children. And yet, it has an odd appeal – maybe because we can all identify with having fairly odd parents to some degree.
This is the author’s first novel.
Other titles you may enjoy:
The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne (2006)
Thanksgiving at the New England home of the second of three sisters marks a reunion between the three Fiske sisters and their long-estranged father, in a portrait of the unraveling of a family.
The Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer (2009)
As a child, Grace Hawkes was abandoned by her father; as an adult, she feels abandoned when her mother dies unexpectedly. Not knowing what to do, Grace runs away. Five years later she reunites with her siblings at her father's deathbed and confronts her past.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)
The idyllic lives of civic-minded environmentalists Patty and Walter Berglund come into question when their son moves in with aggressive Republican neighbors, green lawyer Walter takes a job in the coal industry, and go-getter Patty becomes increasingly unstable and enraged.