Friday, 31 August 2012

The Family Fang

The Family Fang – Kevin Wilson
The premise of this book is one of the more intriguing I’ve come across and it more than lived up to my expectations. The Fang Family are performance artists – emphasis on the ‘Artist’, they travel the USA creating chaos and filming it as artistic statement. From their births the Fang Children Annie and Buster (A&B) have been the centrepieces of the art their parents create, from Busters winning of a beauty pageant (as the prettiest girl there) to Annie’s many observations of her parents being dragged out of various places screaming in protest. Fast forward a few years and Annie and Buster have become a film star and a writer respectively. But not all is going well. Cue the siblings moving back home and the action takes off.
This was such a wonderful read! It was extremely well written with such vivid characters, a plot that had me cringing one minute and laughing out loud the next. I especially enjoyed the twists and turns and general madness that the family creates. The story skips seamlessly from the present and the previous exploits of Caleb and Camille Fang as each artwork brings the reader closer to the events of the novel and to a deeper understanding of the characters. Wilson artfully explores the concept of Art and its many forms and meanings along with the nature of family and the depth of connection that exists there. I would not hesitate to recommend ‘The Family Fang’ to anyone.

Song for the Road

Song for the Road – Various
When I picked up a book that contained the touring tales of 24 of Australia’s singer-songwriters naturally I felt that this would be a debauched romp through the darker hours on the tour bus. To a degree this was the case, there were a couple of acid trippy tales, however I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part what these celebrities value in their travels are much the same as the rest of us plebs. A particular favourite of mine was Murray Cook’s (aka the Red Wiggle) contribution, his was a love affair with New York, his first visit and the subsequent trips he took as the Wiggles went from being a family based group to one of Australia’s most recognisable exports.
The majority of these stories were well written, however I found some to be the type of pointless retelling that so many of us have when we get home ‘first I went here, then I did this, then we went to bed, then I got up and did it all over again’.  This was the fine line ‘Song for the Road’ trod, between being an entertaining romp through other peoples travels, and being a boring recounting of the same trips many of us had taken. This is also what made this book so enjoyable and accessible, that I could relate to these stories and see my own in them.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
This genre has seen a resurgence in the past few years – however the majority of those books on the top ten lists contain at least one of the walking dead. Not so Laini Taylor’s latest novel, ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Set in Prague we follow Karou, a young woman with extraordinary artistic talent and shockingly bright hair who hides a considerable secret. Raised by a chimera, or demon, named Brimstone and the motley crew which composes her family, Karou is a young woman who exists between worlds. Sent on errand after errand to collect human teeth for Brimstone, yet never knowing why, Taylor leads her readers into the labyrinth and mystery of the world that exists just beyond Karou’s understanding – where does the forbidden door in Brimstone’s lair lead? Why does he need teeth??
All these questions fade into the background as the doorways into Brimstone’s world begin to close, leaving Karou locked on the outside with no idea where her family has disappeared to. What’s more, an angelic warrior named Akiva is shadowing her – but for good or ill? I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the first in a trilogy. The writing is intelligent and the plot is exciting in a way that only an original idea such as this can be. At its core this is a novel that questions what we know of good and evil, right and wrong, and the lengths a people will go to in order to protect and maintain their way of life.