Siblings Annie and Buster have spent most of their adult lives trying to escape the notorious legacy of their parents, the performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang. Growing up, they were frequent participants in the Fangs’ madcap art “happenings,” where they appeared as Child A and Child B. As a family, the Fangs infiltrated parks, airplanes, shopping malls, and beauty pageants like a pack of art world grifters.
Having grown up being treated like theatrical props, both Fang children fled the family home the second they were old enough. Now Annie is a Hollywood actress and Buster is a novelist, and it would take a crisis of catastrophic proportions to get them back under their parents’ roof. Of course, this happens almost immediately: Annie’s career is derailed by a smear campaign, while Buster is the victim of a gonzo journalism stunt gone wrong.
Soon after returning to the Fang family home, they realize that Caleb and Camille are in the midst of their own crisis. In an age when people can insulate themselves from the world with portable gadgetry, the Fangs’ art - which seeks to distort the world and flood it with strangeness - no longer works. In fact, nobody even notices it. But with their cash cows Child A and Child B home again, Caleb and Camille begin to plot one last epic work of art, whether Annie and Buster like it or not.
Kevin Wilson’s debut novel is strange, delightful, and extremely hilarious. However, for all its levity, the spectre hanging over the book is the very obvious damage that the Fang children have sustained in the name of their parents’ art. Wilson exercises a deft hand here, milking Annie and Buster’s foibles for laughs while being mindful that they’re not just props in his creation either. Fans of films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Little Miss Sunshine should be sure to check this one out.