Kudos to Kevin Wilson on the high tide of praise for his first novel, The Family Fang. We're fans of Kevin from his last visit to Turnrow in support of his story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. His reading in 2009 was one of the more memorable presentations by a young writer we've ever hosted. He delighted the crowd with his intelligent humor and preoccupation with the roadside dinner stops along his book-touring way.
We were not surprised to see his humor on vibrant display in The Family Fang. This tale focuses on the Fang siblings, Annie and Buster (Child A & B), whose unconventional upbringing has left them ill-equipped to deal with the real world. Annie is a Hollywood actress, Buster is a struggling writer. Both are prone to crashing and burning, and the novel finds them piled up together, sorting through the ruins of their childhood and trying to make sense of their dysfunctional adulthoods.
Their problems can be laid at the feet of their parents, Caleb and Camille, who spent years incorporating Annie and Buster into public spectacles they enacted as guerrilla theater. These high-concept diversions -- "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their mother explains -- are relived in flashbacks and attain the perfect blend of humor and sadness as the kids are dragged along their parents' quest to make life one big art installation. Years later the kids, suffering their own indignities, are called out of retirement for the mother of all cons, though this time they will be victims as well as perpetrators.
Wilson brings a sense of playfulness to the literary art like some of our recent favorites, including Jack Pendarvis, Patrick DeWitt and David Benioff. Wilson was a student of Padgett Powell and a devotee of Charles Portis, so he comes by his antics honestly. It's encouraging to see his whimsy being so well received, and so well executed.
We encourage you to come out and meet the author on Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Reserve your signed copies here.