✓ Read Ì The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris Ì Pretty mature stuff for such a young writer to tackle just look at the dude s pic on the back cover Power of the imagination, friends The disintegration of a fully realized contemporary American male adult is displayed here, embarrassment and heartbreak and all.
Tim Farnsworth has a problem At times, he is overwhelmed by an irresistable urge to walk Not just around the block a time or two, but to the point of exhaustion, regardless of the weather, regardless of whatever else demands his time, like his job as a lawyer, his comfortable suburban home, his family His wandering can go on for days at a time, a sort of sober bender, until he is felled by exhaustion His wife, Jane, manages as best she can, helping him prepare when he knows the compulsion is on him, then picking him up from wherever he winds up, hours, days, weeks later Despite attempts to gain a medical diagnosis, none can be found But Tim s walking is destroying his health, career, his family and ultimately, his sanity Of course Tim s condition seems metaphorical Wrap it up in whatever works Maybe it represents the unavoidable base of human nature erupting forth through the plastic garb of civilization and taking control Ferris says otherwise, that he wanted to explore how sickness strips away one s life the link I found to this interview appears to have gone for an extended walk His work as a lawyer defines Tim, even to the point of ignoring his family But his illness takes that away He loves his family, even his difficult daughter, Becka, but his illness strips that from him as well He retains his feelings for Jane and his daughter but cannot sustain a normal relationship with them.
I was struck by two elements in the book Jane manages to hold on to her feelings for and eagerness to connect with Tim long after most would have simply given up It was a very touching love story Who would endure so much for so long for any of us As Tim descends into forms of psychosis, I was reminded of Richard Matheson sThe Shrinking Man in which his character must contend with a reality that has been thrust on him through no fault of his own, also stripping him of the world he knew There are ruminations in The Unnamed on the differences between the body and soul, God and religion, nature and the spiritual Without God, the body won, and that couldn t be possible He was one thing, his body a different thing altogether, and he was willing a separation, in which he went off to eternal repair while it suffered its due fate of rough handling, dirt, and rot P 221 There are beautiful passages here Winter comes in for particularly vivid language It was the cruelest winter The winds were rabid off the rivers Ice came down like poisoned darts Four blizzards in January alone, and the snowbanks froze into gray barricades as grim and impenetrable as anything in war Tombstones were buried across the cemetery fields and cars parked curbside were swallowed, undigested Another returns to deathly images The cemetery had been retired under a white sheet Darkness now settled over it like dust A black Mercedes threaded its way through the maze of winding streets p62I m a sucker for writing like that.
I suppose one might see Jane as Ariadne offering her Hercules a way to get home, and he does try, succeeding in some, but not all efforts There are road trip elements here, particularly when Tim tries to cross the country to visit an ailing Jane Ferris makes you feel the pain of Tim s effort to reach home But that may be reading too much into it It did work as a love story I was involved in the book, eager to read it, resentful when I had to leave it for the demands of daily life But I also felt conflicted as it headed into the final sections Tim s compulsion advances to active psychosis, if we are not to take as purely symbolic the conversations Tim has with his other, interior self Although I enjoyed the Shrinking Man element, intended or not, it all got a bit muddled for me Tough to follow My other, inner self rebelled Overall, it was a very interesting read, with some gorgeous writing and an intriguing concept The execution was not always compelling, and wandered a bit towards the end But The Unnamed is definitely worth a look.
Tim Farnsworth Walks He Walks Out Of Meetings And Out Of Bed He Walks In Sweltering Heat And Numbing Cold He Will Walk Without Stopping Until He Falls Asleep, Wherever He Is This Curious Affliction Has Baffled Medical Experts Around The Globe And Come Perilously Close To Ruining What Should Be A Happy Life Tim Has A Loving Family, A Successful Law Career, And A Beautiful Suburban Home, All Of Which He Maintains Spectacularly Well Until His Feet Start Moving Again What Drives A Man To Stay In A Marriage, In A Job What Forces Him Away Is Love Or Conscience Enough To Overcome The Darker, Stronger Urges Of The Natural World The Unnamed Is A Deeply Felt, Luminous Novel About Modern Life, Ancient Yearnings, And The Power Of Human Understanding If you took the scenes from Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks runs across the country several times and mixed that with some sections of The Time Travelers Wife, you d have an idea of what this book is like.
Tim Farnsworth is a successful lawyer, and he lives with his wife Jane and their daughter, Becka, in upper middle class splendor Becka has some weight issues and general case of teenage angst, but overall they re living the American dream However, Tim has an odd problem He has twice endured periods of time when he compulsively walks When in the grips of one of these attacks, Tim will just start walking and is unable to stop himself After the walks end, he falls into a deep sleep no matter where he is This can be a tad dangerous if, for example, Tim happens to walk out into freezing temperatures and he isn t wearing his mittens.
The walking compulsion had vanished before, but it returns as the book begins Since they ve been through this twice, Tim and Jane know that doctors and psychiatrists can t help Tim, and efforts to drug or restrain him just make matters worse With almost no hope of recovery or answers, Tim desperately tries to hang onto his job, and Jane s tries to help as they both struggle to maintain some semblance of a life But the toll of dealing with Tim s condition is making life miserable for them, and things are about to get worse.
This was an interesting story, but a very depressing read Tim and Jane are nice people who know they have it good, and are grateful and content with their lives Reading about how this weird walking compulsion steals their happiness and normality is about as much fun as watching a sack full of puppies get drowned.
If I could give this than five stars, I would I don t think I ve been this affected by a novel in years Above all, it is a novel of great compassion.
The premise seemed both abstract and far fetched a man is afflicted with a disease, or a condition, which causes him to walk, suddenly, unable to stop until he eventually drops from exhaustion But Joshua Ferris makes this than a conceptual conundrum He makes it the detailed, examined story of what it would be like to be this man, and have to live life this way, and how such a life would develop, and wander.
Tim Farnsworth is a wealthy lawyer, sort of a schmuck, but good at what he does There s a lot of suspense built into the way his condition affects his work life in particular one high profile case nearing trial There s even suspense the heart of the book really about how his suffering extends to his family He has a loving relationship with a wife and a complicated relationship with a teenage daughter The bonds of these relationships are tested, and this gives the book much of its emotional power These characters are in a very particular situation, but what they go through comes to feel universal The Unnamed made me feel for the first time in years the impact of large, enduring, unanswerable questions questions I thought I d become inured to about the division between the body and the mind, what it means to live in a body that doesn t work the way you want it to, how medical affliction and spiritual affliction are related, and how life is so often out of our control It even made me reconsider a word that I don t like very much at all soul which seemed, in Ferris s inquisitive, insistent writing style, a subject worth grappling with again.
I listened to this on an audio download got it from Audible.
com , read by the author His voice is so easy to listen to, and perfect for the story He gets into each character with a lot of feeling but does not over act the drama, they way professional actors sometimes do on audiobooks I may very well read the hardcover now.
The Unnamed is a fascinating account of a man literally at war with himself a character torn between compulsion and resistance, body and mind It is a complex and heartbreaking novel about the effects of disease, both physical and psychological, on a person s humanity and his relationship with others Joshua Ferris proves once again that he is a skilled and nuanced writer who posits thought provoking questions without feeling the need to give tidy answers or even, at times, the semblance of a solution Now that I ve gotten the well deserved praise out of the way, though, I do have to say that the novel, for all its strengths, falls slightly short of both its promise and its premise My biggest problem with the book is its lack of narrative consistency The first parts of the book are brisk and multifaceted, an amazing cross section of not only the main character and his illness, but also of the world and people around him The latter part of the book is told as a meandering odyssey although this tortuous homecoming is beautifully reflective of the main character s illness, it plays with time and narrative style in a way that feels contrary or at odds with the earlier parts of the novel Moreover, there are a number of very interesting plot elements a murder case and a major character s struggles with alcoholism that are simply abandoned Again, I don t necessarily want tidy endings for all plot points, but they do need to seem purposeful rather than just requisite inciting events or complications As a whole, The Unnamed was a strange and compelling book that, for me, fell short of its promise.
I read an excerpt of The Unnamed right before the release date a year ago It had such a weird set up, I couldn t get it out of my head, and I wanted to buy it so I could finish the story, and find out what the hell was wrong with the main character Why did he wander Was he possessed did he have a disease hidden superpowers Well, I m pleased to say I managed finally to borrow this ebook from the library and I didn t pay one dime for it PHew Then I read it like a maniac in two sittings It was kind of short Thank FSM It wasn t a strange disease novel, or horror, or supernatural it was just depressing And you never really get told what the hell was wrong with the wandering man, you just have these caricatures of the fractured and suffering family The story itself flipped between narrative, and a sort of schizophrenic watered down stream of consciousness Is that it was he schizophrenic Unfortunately, you just never find out OH but view spoiler a couple of his toes fall off, one is mummified, and falls off in his sock hide spoiler Upgrading from 3 to 4 stars because for some reason I keep thinking about this book even though I read it like a year ago, and because I fucking love the audacity of the opening sentence What an odd book.
The first section really is magnificent, instantly hooking you with descriptions of the bizarre illness alluded to in the title as well as vivid sketches of the sufferer s life at home and at work Some early office set scenes actually do offer an interesting echo with Ferris Then We Came to the End, containing the book s sole nods toward humor, although Ferris loses interest in the work thread pretty quickly a symptom of his surprising lack of focus in this novel All the pieces are in place for Ferris to pull off a wrenching tragedy As is my wont, I was imagining the cinematic possibilities a man wakes up in an unfamiliar place, alone and disoriented he shakes the sleep from his body and waits for his mind to follow suit, takes out his phone, and then we cut to the car ride home with his wife, all tense silences and lens flares Later, an unbroken shot of the man walking, walking, over bridges and along sides of highways, walking and then stopping and then cut back to the wake call ride ritual The blinking editing rhythms plunging us into his vicious cycle of involuntary escape and shameful return If nothing else, this first section could make a fine piece of elliptical filmmaking And of course it works on its own as a study of a family under catastrophic duress, the wife and daughter just as compelling as the man.
And then, shit gets weird In what I can only assume is a show of solidarity with his perambulatory protagonist, Ferris ditches the sharp sense of purpose he had in the first section and starts wandering aimlessly in the narrative hinterlands Wife and daughter recede into the background plot elements introduced earlier fail to pay off even cursorily different thematic philosophical hats are tried on, none purchased Voice and tone become crushingly inconsistent It s established that the characters don t know what causes the man s condition, but does Ferris know Did he have any sort of endgame or overarching design in mind It feels like he was just winging it But line by line the book remains fascinating, and although the shift in conflict from external to internal cuts off too much of the reader s air supply, it s an understandable choice and a gutsy one One thing Ferris doesn t lack is balls The Unnamed is a long way from the fully realized masterpiece that was Then We Came to the End, but I still recommend it, and I think it confirms that Ferris is a writer of consequence and substance who could develop into one of our interesting prestige novelists Contrary to the Goodreaders disappointed over Ferris departure from comedy, I applaud him for trying something different, even if it didn t totally work Again balls.
You know how comedic actors sometimes attempt to transition from comedy to serious drama but the effort seems forced I felt that way reading The Unnamed This novel seems a reaction to the author s lighter and better Then We Came To The End Maybe he needed to exorcise this book s demons before moving on to the next novel Maybe he has a personal history with mental illness and the subject matter is important to him That doesn t mean I got much from reading The Unnamed The book feels like a grim and un nuanced drag without much of a point Ferris s sopho novel is, well, sophomoric Bleh.