03 March 2010
Book Review: The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
I know the book world is divided on this, but I LOVED Joshua Ferris’ first novel Then We Came to the End. I thought it was a wonderful mash up of Austen, Trollope, and “The Office”. And it has, in my humble opinion, one of the best opening lines of all time: “We were fractious and overpaid.”
Well, Ferris’ sophomore novel The Unnamed, is nothing like Then We Came to the End, but it is still a really fantastic book. Some professional reviewers have dinged him because the two books are so dissimilar in style. But I think professional reviewers, as a rule, suck. I prefer the uninformed ramblings (like mine) of people (and blogs) I trust.
The Unnamed tells the story of Tim Farnsworth, a successful lawyer in Manhattan who has an unusual malady that defies diagnosis. His unnamed affliction compels him to walk (and walk and walk). We aren’t talking about a nice stroll through Central Park on his lunch hour kind of walking, but the kind that takes him across bridges to other boroughs, across state lines, through all kinds of weather and with the inability to stop until his body/mind decides it/they is/are ready to stop.
This is a compelling, kind of fast read that had me tearing up from time to time. His condition seems totally implausible in most ways, but the emotion, fear, and uncertainty that it illustrates feels very plausible and frightening. And it is somewhat of a paean to unconditional love, although a kind of sweetly sad paean (is that possible?).
I enjoyed reading it, and it made me love my husband a little more than I already do.