Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesdays: Sept. 21

For the WWW weekly blog meme:

What I finished: "The Family Fang" by Kevin Wilson. I took it out of the library, and since it's almost due (and holds prevent me from renewing), I decided to put it ahead of everything else I was reading. Anyway, this novel is an enjoyable exploration of one particularly maddening family and its effect on the children, a son and daughter who regret their past while messing up, for a while, their present. The Fangs are performance artists who used their children extensively in their guerrilla art -- in one case, the son, Buster, wins a beauty contest, then reveals himself to be a guy. Grown-up Buster is a novelist reduced to writing about vets making potato guns; Annie, the daughter, is a moderately famous actress who's messing up her career. What leads these children home, and then leads them down unexpected paths, is a function of their earlier lives and their parents' commitment to their art. I have a few stylistic issues (quotes should get their own paragraphs; the parents' characters are not sharply drawn), but otherwise this is a fun first novel. What's fun about it is that the Fangs are highly unusual, but in many ways they're like every other late-20th-century parents: They create their own world, in which they raise their children, and then their children must confront a world far different from the one their parents created. My parents were not performance artists, but their lives and values were so out of sync with the 1960s and '70s that my upbringing was, in some ways, a kind of performance art -- distinctly different, sometimes difficult, but also, many times, beautiful and surprising.

What I'm reading now: I'm reading (more or less at the same time) Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee and The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.

What I'll read next: I really want to read "The Unnamed" by Joshua Ferris (I just started it) and Domestic Violets by Mark Norman. I may read these instead of the above two titles.

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