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A review and/or reaction: The Family Fang, dysfunction and its strange allure and persistence

The title of this book might lead one to think that it was a horror story about vampires, werewolves, or just beasties of some sort.  However, the word “family” really does denote that it is about a family.  Just not what most people would like to believe a family is.

For those that hate spoilers so I will definitely keep them to a minimum although I will give one tiny one here by saying that one of the characters observes that for them, spoilers or details don’t do anything for the narrative one way or the other because it is “experience” of the event that counts.  I would add that the “experience here is reading the story.  

It is not giving anything away to say that there is some “dysfunction” in the family Fang. That is already known if one reads the first paragraph of the introducting blurb.  It reads “Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children”.  That sums up the story quite well.

But let’s talk about why this is one of my favorite areas of literature.  I don’t know what genre the experts would call it, but i have created my own name for it, ie “family dysfunction” literature. It is not horror in the traditional sense and it certainly isn’t a comedy so that discribes it as best I have discovered.  And yet, as sad and offputtng as the material might seem, it is one of my family subjects to read.

So, at about 9pm on a Friday night, I find myself sitting in a Mexican restaurant reading this opus of 309 pages…not a real long book but a lot of stuff packed into it. By the way, I am eating chips and cheese dip, drinking a coke to wash it down. Now if that is not an interesting choice for someone with diabetes I don’t know what, but sometimes I just have to wild.  

Anyway, a neighbor woman who is the member of the family (in law actuallly) walks by my table and sees me and stops to talk….not wearing a mask as I was not because i was sitting and eating. I quickly told her with a chuckle that she shouldn’t come too close because I was one of those people who was adamant about social distancing.  She talked and stayed 6 feet away.

She then talk me that latest about my friend (well, she moved and i haven’t talked her for a few months but I THINK we are still friends) and her dysfunction.  It seems that after living with her daughter for a few months, they are no longer speaking, and of course my friend hadn’t spoken to the lady I am speaking with for months and months, long before the last time I talked to my friend.  Closing out the discussion, I chuckled about the dysfuntion in my friends life and family and how I had always thought I had it bad.  She moved on and I went back to my book and sipping coke and nibbling.

And of course thinking and reacting.  Dysfunction….dysfunction in the book, dysfunction in my friends family circle that seems never to end, and anybody that knows me knows that I didn’t exactly grow up dysfunction free either.

Of course unlike the family Fang, the embarrassment, fear, uncertainity that I experenced at times, including the hope that since disaster was very likely at any moment, why not just go ahead and have the disaster so that one doesn’t have to spend anymore time guessing what the disaster would be, or anticipating said disaster.  The difference is that fear, embarrassment and uncertainly that I experience was never claimed BY ANYBODY to be “art”. It was just plain dysfunction.  

Not sure if that is better or worse, but it is different. Oh, and my experience reminded me that I have my own set of behavior that often vacillates. Tonight, realizing what I had done to myself, it would be hard not to because my emotions and my physical form was reacting, I proceed to put in almost half again as much walking as I usually do in a given day, and then came home and took an extra Metformin.

Who knows with all extra walking, I might even get my sleep patterns back to semi-normal, although i doubt it 6am being the new midnight for me, but I might just have worn myself out with the walking to go to sleep by say 3am….4??


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