I LOL'd last night while reading The Family Fang. I may blow off some things I have to do today to keep reading this bizarre novel by Kevin Smith.
Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art.
Their children called it mischief.
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents’ madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.
When the lives they’ve built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance–their magnum opus–whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what’s ultimately more important: their family or their art.
That is an official “blurb” for the book but what I really like is how well written and humorous it is. In my opinion, a perfect combination. Who knew I could enjoy reading whole chapters about a potato gun?
In the weeks that Chapter2Books has been open I've found myself trying to figure out how to recommend a book without giving too much away. I don't know if that will get easier with time. It was difficult explaining both Sarah's Key and The Borrower.
The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai is about a children's librarian who goes on a road trip with a nine year old boy. How do you explain it without it sounding like a story about child abduction? Its a great read and I recommend anyone finding out why there is much more to it than that.
On a completely different note, Sarah's Key contains horrible, historical events that are difficult to “sell”. Tatiana de Rosnay has done a wonderful job of weaving together a modern day mystery related to a true historical event along with regular family dynamics.
I assume this will get easier and yet I find describing This Beautiful Life challenging as well! Helen Schulman wrote a very straightforward novel about a contemporary family whose lives screech to a halt while they deal with their son's suspension from school. The offense he committed is very timely in the age of You-Tube, Twitter, Face book etc.
My problem with describing it is that I found it terrifying. It reminded me of Judith Guest's Ordinary People even though they have nothing in common. The terrifying element that binds the two in my mind is what is unspoken in the lives of busy families. Can busy families who seem happy have everything fall apart so easily? What is under the surface that blows everything apart when it is finally spoken out loud?
This Beautiful Life would make an excellent book club read for groups who like to discuss families and marriage and real life.
The Family Fang? Not so much! But I look forward to finishing it soon to read about all their exploits and then recommended enthusiastically.