–written by Hearth Book Club Leader, Marika McCoola
I love books that people react strongly to, books that spark opinions and lead to discussions. That’s partially why I chose The Family Fang as the first selection for the Hearth Bookclub. The Family Fang, with its dysfunctional characters, evoked strong reactions in readers and lead us to a lively discussion. What helped this discussion was the range of experiences people approached the book with. Those of us who have studied performance art viewed the Fangs as eccentrics, but realistic ones. Others found the Fangs to be too ridiculous. This lead to an interesting discussion of what performance art is and why one chooses to create it, a discussion that was helped along by someone who documents performances and happened to be sitting next to our group. If you’d like to learn about some real performance artists who might agree that they “distort the world…make it vibrate,” here are some resources (274). Marina Abramović, Josef Beuys, Chris Burden
At the heart of our the discussion was the idea that there’s a line between art and reality. As a character says, “Great artists…can separate reality from art. A lot of us can’t do that” (204). For the Fangs, making art means becoming art, obscuring the line between art and self, performance and normal life. Many of us have had experience with this play between who we are and what we make- and not just artists, but anyone who immerses oneself in a field to the exclusion of all else. Intriguing, right? I’m certain a number of us spent the snowy walk home trying to figure out what the balance is between what we make and the other spheres we engage with.
Thank you to those who braved slippery sidewalks and mounds of snow to join us! If you weren’t able to attend, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hopefully I’ll see you on Wednesday, February 25 at 7pm at Diesel Cafe when we discuss The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen! While making, and immersing oneself in what one creates, is also a part of Larsen’s novel, it has a very different tone. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think.