32 thoughts on “Review: The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson

  1. You are so right about wanting to read fifty more of the hoaxes, and how the final one was a big letdown. Although I think the letdown is the point–when you continually disappoint people, they learn not to expect much, so wanting more successful hoaxes is like expecting the children not to get hardened and bitter. You can expect it, but you’ll be disappointed.

    • Huh. That is a good way of looking at it but I don’t quite buy it. I wanted the final hoax to be more — I don’t know. I wanted it to involve more of the foregoing things. It felt like a cheat because it was too small, and I thought Camille and Caleb would never settle for anything small. They’d always go for the big finish.

    • I know I’ve liked other Philip Larkin poems before but right now I can only think of the bad ones. There was one about death that was very good. Er, that won’t narrow it down for you much though.

  2. Oh, how I love to be tricked in a book – and how I do NOT love to be tricked in actual life. Also, it is bizarre how many people think parenting is something that “just happens” when they are busy doing other stuff. Why? Why would anyone think that? ALL that aside, would I like this?

    • Hahahahaha, I know that you do not like to be tricked in real life, Mumsy. That is why I have never attempted an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke on you, like some members of the family.

      I can’t decide if you would like it or not! You’d like all the things they come up with to do (they’re just so weird), but I know you don’t like seeing kids be hurt. There’s one scene in particular, where they go to a restaurant (er, spoilers, other comment-readers!) and the kids have no idea what’s going to happen and the parents won’t say and won’t give them any sign, and halfway through dinner the little boy is so nervous and keyed up that he throws up and they have to leave. And the parents are like “Glorious! You MADE the drama! We didn’t even have to do anything!” It’s pretty upsetting. But that’s the most upsetting thing in the book, so you can decide for yourself how you’d feel about it.

  3. I have never read that poem, but man, how true! I remember reading a lot about this book early on, and thought it sounded fantastic. It does seem like an odd style of parenting, and I can only imagine what my takeaway would be. I am sorry to hear that the final peice was disappointing, though after your very wonderful review, I want to read this one now more than ever. And I have thought more than once that you have an amazing mom and dad.

    • Aw, thanks! I do have an amazing mom and dad, although compared to Camille and Caleb Fang, all the parents are amazing. :p I hope you like this if you pick it up — it’s definitely different!

  4. My mom’s been wanting me to read this book because she really liked it, but I hate hoaxes so much in real life that I’m not sure I could get over it fictionally. Hmmm. Sadly, Mumsy, parenting *does* “just happen” if you’re busy doing other stuff — it just doesn’t turn out very well. Very like souffles, in this regard.

    • Indeed? You hate hoaxes? You aren’t even a teensy bit impressed by the grandeur of the lie? Mumsy and I are both very swayed by grand dramatic lies of enormous scope. We cannot resist. We just want to believe.

    • Right? Philip Larkin!

      Aw, I hope my review hasn’t put you off. I would say, the ending is disappointing, but the book is extremely entertaining. It goes quickly so you won’t get bogged down and feel cranky with it. (At least I didn’t.)

  5. When I saw the title, I thought this might be a vampire book. Now knowing it’s not, I want to read it. Somehow reading about how bad others are screwed up always makes me feel better. And I don’t want to delve into why I feel that way. 🙂 Thanks. On the list it goes.

    • Hahahaha, it is emphatically not a vampire book. And I know that you are not alone in liking to read about screwed-up people, or else the dysfunctional family memoir would not be so very very beloved. 😀

  6. I also assumed this was about vampires and that it would be like The Radleys, which I enjoyed very much but not enough to want to read again. This, however, sounds like a hoot, because I also enjoy a good hoax, as long as its intention is not to humiliate a specific person or distress anyone for more than a minute or two. (Fake April Fool’s Day news stories before everyone was doing them or movies that pretended to be documentaries are the kinds of things I enjoy.)

    • Would I like The Radleys?

      Just in the interests of full disclosure, the hoaxes the Family Fang produces sometimes do have the intention of humiliating people and distressing them for longer then a minute or two. In case that makes a difference in your wanting to read it.

  7. I love that poem (which I had never seen before!) … which makes up for the fact (maybe?) that I hated this book. The Fang parents were just awful. I was rooting for them to actually be dismembered at the rest stop. This book reinforces my support of parenting licenses. 🙂

    • Indeed? Well, yay! I am happy to have introduced you to it!

      I too was sort of rooting for the parents to have been dismembered at the rest stop. But I knew they weren’t. I knew they were doing a trick. I just wanted the trick to involve their actual deaths, in the end.

  8. yay! Philip Larkin! So witty. I have yet to read The Family Fang. Most people I know have loved it, but I have long strongly suspected that this book is not for me. I’ve yet to read a review to change my mind, but maybe it exists.

  9. That poem is freakin’ awesome! And I’m not even a big fan of poetry. Evidently, all it takes is a few swears and I’m sold.

  10. I think the poem sad. I do like the title. I’m glad FizzyJill found a poem to be a fan of.
    I will not read this book. I think you should add souffle to your tags. I adore the word souffle. I kinda like souffles to though I’ve never attempted one. Hmmm.

    • The poem is sad. Philip Larkin was a sad dude. But it’s pithy!

      I shall put the word “souffle” in my next set of tags. Promise. (If I remember. I am often dumb and forgetful.)

  11. Very interesting review as I’ve heard of this book around and about without having any idea of its plot. I love the idea of crazy performance pieces, very cool, but bad parenting does sort of freak me out a bit, too. It all depends, you know, on how the rest of the narrative is ticking along and how the parenting is depicted. I am still only halfway persuaded about this novel, though, so thank you, Jenny, as it is a relief some times not to have to add another book to the pile!

    • The parenting is depicted…very negatively. I would say if bad parenting in fiction bothers you, this is emphatically not for you. Stay miles away. Miles.

      (See how I am helping you in not adding books to your pile? By being emphatic?)

  12. It was the role reversal that got me – Annie & Buster were the parents and Camille and Caleb the children in effect. I loved the performance pieces, and couldn’t stop chuckling, although they are not all comfortable to read. I thought it was a brilliant book.

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