Imagine your father attaching homemade flares to his back and holding six-month-old you as he walks through a crowded mall, smoke and flames shooting out from his clothes. Your mother is on the second floor, videotaping him so the whole family can watch the crowd’s reactions later at home. Or imagine being on a flight with your parents and little brother, sitting separately, as your father proposes over the intercom to your mother. She says yes on that flight but on the return flight, makes an unpleasant scene saying no, resulting in an airplane full of tense passengers.
To the Fang children, this is life. To the parents, this is “art”. Caleb and Camille Fang’s idea of art is to “make strange and memorable things” happen in public places to cause a panic, reaction, or event. The two children are raised to be on alert at the drop of a hat, ready to participate in whatever art their parents have planned. Caleb and Camille Fang become famous artists whose entire existence centers around the most important thing in their life – art, not their two children. This is something the now-grown children, one a famous actress and the other an aspiring writer, must come to terms with when their parents pull a final performance that they must decipher.
This novel will surprise and shock you to no end. The chapters alternate between the adult children muddling through their current lives and descriptions of the past “art” in which they had been forced to participate. Each event revealed becomes more horrifying than the last, making this a very addictive read.