The children are allowed to assume aliases for these escapades: Clara Bow for Annie, Nick Fury for Buster. Now grown, their children lead somewhat chaotic and strange lives. Anne is a fairly successful actress with a superhero franchise and an Oscar nomination under her belt. After rumors (and photos posted on the the Internet where she is topless) surface that she is unstable and, possibly gay, she dumps her successful but utterly annoying screenwriter boyfriend, reluctantly sleeps with a fellow actress whom she has no interest in and a reporter who has been dispatched to write about her antics. She dispiritedly returns home to her parents in Tennessee utterly confused as to why she has behaved in this manner.
"Their father, on several occasions, throughout their childhood, had referred to painting and photography and drawing as dead forms of art, incapable of accurately reflecting the unwieldy nature of real life. "Art happens when things fucking move around," he told them, "not when you freeze them in a goddamn block of ice." He would then take whatever item was closest to him, a glass or tape recorder, and smash it against the wall. "That was art," he said, and then he would pick up the pieces of the shattered object and hold them out for his children to inspect. "This," he said, offering the remains of the broken thing, "is not."
The only person they know who might be able to unravel this is the now 90 something Hobart, an artist and Caleb's mentor - the inspiration of many of their outrageous stunts. It was Hobart who once told Caleb "Children kill art". Now seeing the wreckage that the elder Fangs have left behind he penitently amends this verdict. "Art kills children, " he sorrowfully notes.
The denouement, however, feels heavy-handed and improbable even for a fictional family as odd as the Fangs. In the end, the book did not compel me. It offers a unique proposition, a clever proposition, but it felt too contrived and too deliberately quirky - like a Wes Anderson film. Someone should give Anderson the book. On second thought ... please don't.