Excerpt from The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Family Fang

A Novel

By Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Aug 2011,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2012,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

prologue

crime and punishment, 1985
artists: caleb and camille fang


Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief. "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their daughter, Annie, told them. "It's a lot more complicated than that, honey," Mrs. Fang said as she handed detailed breakdowns of the event to each member of the family. "But there's a simplicity in what we do as well," Mr. Fang said. "Yes, there is that, too," his wife replied. Annie and her younger brother, Buster, said nothing. They were driving to Huntsville, two hours away, because they did not want to be recognized. Anonymity was a key element of the performances; it allowed them to set up the scenes without interruption from people who would be expecting mayhem.

As he sped down the highway, eager for expression, Mr. Fang stared at his son, six years old, in the rearview mirror. "Son," he said. "You want to go over your duties for today? Make sure we have everything figured out?" Buster looked at the rough sketches in pencil that his mother had drawn on his piece of paper. "I'm going to eat big handfuls of jelly beans and laugh really loud." Mr. Fang nodded and then smiled with satisfaction. "That's it," he said. Mrs. Fang then suggested that Buster might throw some of the jelly beans in the air, which everyone in the van agreed was a good idea. "Annie," Mr. Fang continued, "what's your responsibility?" Annie was looking out the window, counting the number of dead animals they had passed, already up to five. "I'm the inside man," she said. "I tip off the employee." Mr. Fang smiled again. "And then what?" he asked. Annie yawned. "Then I get the heck out of there." When they finally arrived at the mall, they were ready for what would come next, the strangeness they would create for such a brief moment that people would suspect it had only been a dream.

The Fangs walked into the crowded mall and dispersed, each pretending the others did not exist. Mr. Fang sat in the food court and tested the focus on the tiny camera hidden in a pair of bulky eyeglasses that made him break out in a rash around his eyes whenever he wore them. Mrs. Fang walked with great purpose through the mall, swinging her arms with a wild, exaggerated motion in order to create the impression that she might be slightly crazy. Buster fished pennies out of the fountains, his pockets damp and overflowing with coinage. Annie bought a temporary tattoo from a kiosk that sold absurd, worthless knickknacks and then went to the restroom to rub the design onto her bicep, a skull with a rose between its teeth. She rolled the sleeve of her T-shirt back down over her arm to cover the tattoo and then sat in one of the bathroom stalls until the alarm on her watch beeped. It was time, and all four of them walked slowly to the bulk-candy shop for the thing that would occur only if each one of them did exactly what was required.

After five minutes of wandering aimlessly through the aisles of the store, Annie tugged on the shirt of the teenage boy behind the register. "You wanna buy something, little girl?" he asked. "You need me to reach something for you? Because I'd be happy to do it." He was so kind that Annie felt slightly ashamed for what she would do next. "I'm not a tattletale," she told him. He looked confused and then leaned closer to her. "What's that, miss?" he asked. "I don't mean to be a tattletale," she said, "but that woman is stealing candy." She pointed at her mother, who was standing by a dispenser filled with jelly beans, a giant silver scoop in her hand. "That woman?" the boy asked. Annie nodded. "You did a good thing today, little girl," he said and handed her a lollipop that also doubled as a whistle as he went to get the manager. Annie unwrapped the lollipop and chomped down on it, the shards of sugar scratching the inside of her mouth, as she leaned against the counter. When she was finished, she took another lollipop from the display and put it in her pocket for later. When the manager and the employee returned from the back room, she walked out of the store and did not turn around, already assured of the scene that would transpire.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. Copyright © 2011 by Kevin Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.