By Christopher Hacker
Arthur Morel, a one-time musical prodigy, has become an author. He has a beautiful wife, a precocious son, and a burgeoning career. Then he publishes his second book and it all goes into a tailspin. Art's friends from school might have predicted this. He has a history of going for the shock and awe version of art. He believes that performances have become too polite, and applause is just what is expected from the audience. He tells a friend, "That's why we're pushing pianos off stages, why we prefer the riot to the ovation. The riot has become the ovation of the twentieth century. At least it's honest."
And, honestly, Art Morel does cause something of a riot. But is it the riot he expected?
This is a book about art, what it can do, what it should do, and what we can do about it. It poses this question: If a novelist injects his own life into his novel, and then has a character named for himself do something shocking and morally reprehensible, how should the reader react?
The Family Fang
By Kevin Wilson
What would it be like growing up with parents who were performance artists? Annie and Buster Fang know all about it. They spent their childhoods as props in their parents' constant projects. Caleb and Camille Fang were artists before they were parents, and they see no reason not to treat their family life as an extension of the artistic one. By throwing chaos into everyday situations they create art that is present only in the moment. The curling lip, the widened eyes, the running feet of shoppers in malls across the country--this is what the Fangs live for.
But when their parents disappear, is it more art or is it an actual tragedy? That's what the book seems to be about. What's real? Who's in control? Where do we go from here?
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Review by Danny Hanbery