It's gotten consistently high marks every place from Entertainment Weekly to The Washington Post. It's been mentioned in the same breath as Geek Love and The Royal Tenenbaums. It's deliciously odd, delightfully unhinged and surprisingly warm-hearted. It's The Family Fang (Ecco $23.99), this year's book to read. Niteside got with author Kevin Wilson on the eve of his appearance at Books and Books.
Wanna tell us a quick bit about the Family Fang? The book is about a husband and wife, Caleb and Camille Fang, who gain some measure of fame by creating chaotic and strange performance pieces and force their own children, Annie and Buster, to take part in the performances. The book moves back and forth between when Annie and Buster and children and when they're adults, trying to recover from their strange childhood. The book deals with the power of family in shaping our identities and also asks questions about the price of making art.
Are there any parallels to your own family? Thankfully, not much, though my mother and father, who were amazing parents, raised my sister and I to appreciate strangeness and allowed us free reign to use our imaginations. They helped make the Fangs possible.
You've received an onslaught of rather laudatory notices -- have you been paying off the reviewers? I wish it was that easy. I have no scruples. I'd do it in a second if it worked. Really though, it's just such a weird thing to see your book get such great reviews and know that it has an even better chance of being read by more people.
What was one of the most surprising things that's been said/written about the book? It's always interesting to see if reviewers have any sympathy for the parents, Caleb and Camille. Some readers truly hate them and yet there are a few people who tell me that they can understand why Caleb and Camille try to include their children in these performances, even if it is misguided.
If I were to say it comes off kinda like Flannery O'Connor finding Geek Love, how would you feel? Well, John, I might have to kiss you. I can't think of higher praise. And you're not alone with the comparisons to Geek Love. I've heard that quite a bit lately and feel thrilled to be compared to such an amazingly strange book.
Kevin Wilson reads from The Family Fang Tuesday August 23, 8pm at Books and Books 2675 Aragon Avenue Coral Gables. For more information call (305) 442-4408 or log on here.