Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

This book is based on the rather extreme concept of taking performance art to its very limits and living it, having children and integrating them into a life of compositions, performances in innocuous places like shopping malls or aeroplanes designed to create a response from the audience.
As a drama geek and a fan of modern political drama I had some understanding of the concepts the book is based on; that didn’t necessarily make it any more credible. I found it difficult to believe that parents would involve their children in such mad ventures...but then logically, parents do horrible things to their children, to a minor or major degree, every day, why should performance art be less believable than any other forms of abuse?
Wilson has made a good job of the characterisation, with the reader becoming absorbed in the difficulties faced by the grown up children of the artistic parents and left in a void of cruel unknowing when their parents have disappeared, are they dead or is this another piece of extreme drama?
The endless soul searching of the brother and sister of the family Fang was a bit too lengthy at the beginning of the book but the pace became more exciting after the apparent disappearance of the parents. My favourite parts were the descriptions of the family Fang performances, when the parents staged, with their children, their events and the reader waits with bated breath to see how the audiences will respond. The emotional highs and lows of performance are well documented as are the flaws, joys and tragedies of human nature and our responses to the people around us.
It’s a fun book, disturbing and funny in equal measure. Worth a read, even if some readers may find the aspects of performance art a little too obscure for their own liking.

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