by Kevin Wilson
I thought Wilson’s collection of stories, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, was brilliant. I’ll confess to harboring a slight disappointment that his next book would be a novel (the stories really are that good). Upon reading this, my disappointment completely vanished.
It started to disappear the moment Kevin Wilson started to read. I was lucky enough to get to attend a book reading — and it turns out, his nervousness aside, Wilson does a great job reading. It helps that his book is so damn funny and weird.
It is generationally weird. The Fangs are performance artists, and they’ve done a pretty weird job raising their two kids, Annie and Buster Fang, aka child A and child B. The kids weren’t so much raised to be performance artists as they were raised as a performance. And this, as you might expect, has fucked them up.
It’s funny, sad, outrageous, and compulsively believable, how it fucked them up. You just have to admire it, to love it, and be horrified by it, sometimes all at the same time. Yes, it raises all kinds of questions about art and what it means, about personal responsibility and growing up and deciding what do to and what to believe, but it is never, ever heavy-handed about any of that.
Wilson’s story is true. That’s probably one of the best things you can say about a novel, that it feels true. For me, the other great thing I can say about it is I don’t much care if Wilson’s next book is a collection of short stories or a novel — either way, I’ll buy it immediately and relish the read.