Scrambling to get this review done! I’m two past my cannonball (queue shock) but want this one on the books as I completed it at the buzzer. This book was a gift of mine from a literary pal who read it, liked it, and thought of me. After I got a chapter or two into it I texted her and said that this book was weird and kind of good and maybe I liked it. That sentiment remained through the whole read.
Camille and Caleb Fan are performance artists who stage wild students in public for effect. I’m sure they’d think that was an over-simplification, but that’s the gist of it. When they had children, that didn’t stop their shenanigans but rather gave them two additional performances A (Annie) and B (Buster). This book jumps from the present, where the adult Fang children are bumbling through life with suitcases filled with emotional baggage and have moved back in with their parents, temporarily, as they try to get through their own current crises. The novel also dips into the past to give us glimpses of some of the performance pieces. There is a lot of heart and humor in this book and a few surprises so the less I say about the plot, the better.
In the last quarter, things get wild. I’m not sure I liked the ending but I will say that it was both surprising and plausible and I think Wilson did a good job tying together a zany story.
I was surprised to see that this was a movie in 2015, starring Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman as the Fang children and Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett as Caleb and Camille. Excellent casting choices all around, but I’m not sure they got it right. I took a gander at the trailer and though all the pieces are there, the music and vibe were altogether much more whimsical and hopeful than this book. This is a dysfunctional book about a dysfunctional family, not one that finds its way really, but a snapshot of the ways in which parents and screw up their children in a profound way, and how some people will sacrifice everything for their art.