Monday, September 19, 2011

The Family Fang

Have you ever bought a book based solely on the cover, or the title? Well, that's exactly what I did with this book...both the title and cover called, and won! Come on, just look at those proper, but oddly anachronistic parents. And what's up with the masked kids?

The Fangs are performance artists, and their guerrilla stunts get more and more involved as the book progresses. Chapters alternate between descriptions of the flash events which happened in the past, and current events in the now adult children's lives. The parents, Camille and Caleb, spend their free time developing scenarios that utilize the innocence, and show stopping talents of their kids. At one point, they print hundreds of fake "Free Chicken Sandwich" coupons, embedding the logo of a fast food outlet in a mall food court. Buster and Annie pass out hundreds, while mom and dad linger near the the restaurant, video camera loaded and ready to film the chaos when the food stand is rushed by hungry shoppers.

At another point, they dress Buster up as a kiddie pageant contestant. He is resistant to the gown and make-up, but after a heavy duty guilt trip, he agrees. Buster perfects the wave, the walk, and the smile. In the event that he wins, Buster has a prepared speech about the stupidity and sexism of child beauty contests. He will toss his crown into the audience, resume his boyish swagger and exit. But, much to his parents' surprise, the plan backfires; I won't spoil that for you.

Both kids have adult troubles, possibly connected to their theatrical childhoods, but that isn't clear to me yet. Because I'm only at the halfway point, I haven't decided if I like Camille and Caleb or not. That will probably be based on how everything turns out for the kids. Buster has lost a tooth, and part of his face from a potato gun stunt gone bad, and Annie has posted revealing photos on the internet in an attempt to advance her B movie career. For a while, they have been living independent, adult lives away from home, but, I just reached the part where both "kids" have moved back home. I'm guessing the performance hi-jinks will resume shortly, and I can't wait.

This books if fun, quirky, fast paced, and Ann Patchett called it "genius." You can't find a better endorsement than that, can you?

***Well, I head to Minneapolis on Thursday for my big trade show. I been hoarding a Steve blog for next Monday. You will appreciate that far more than any attempt I would make at being coherent after a long weekend away from home.

Thanks for stopping by.