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The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

The Unnamed

by Joshua Ferris

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1,0589111,846 (3.48)45
  1. 10
    Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses by Ian Hacking (albanyhill)
    albanyhill: Mad Travelers is nonfiction about dissociative fugue in the 1890s, which had as a symptom compulsive bouts of walking.

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» See also 45 mentions

English (88)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
One of my favorites ( )
  ibkennedy | Aug 29, 2018 |
So what I love about Joshua Ferris is that both of his books are utterly original and he's not afraid to go for what seems like a completely whacked-out idea. (Not Yann-Martel level of whacked out, because who could ever match that, but whacked out nonetheless.) The other thing I love about Joshua Ferris is that sentence by sentence, his writing is just lovely. It's not written in a flashy way (like, for example, Netherland), but it's really very quietly beautiful.

But here's the problem: this book is kind of a hot mess, the middle especially. I think it might have been brilliant if the murder subplot had been stripped out and he had published it as a novella instead. I don't think the premise is sustainable for 320 pages (or 4500 Kindle locations, as the case may be). That's a lot of pages for a book with exactly two fleshed-out characters. (If I were editing this book, I would also put poor Becka out of her misery. Her only role is to be fat and to e-mail Tim with bad news.) It does seem like Ferris had some kind of page quota in mind and just meandered around until he got to it. I'm sure that's not the case, but that's how I felt while I was reading it.

Having said that, the beginning is really really good and the last few pages (500 Kindle locations) brought tears to my eyes and I actually don't cry over books all that much. Someone compared it to Time Traveller's Wife, and I get that, but I think Ferris actually is trying to say something deeper here. The reviews I saw of this book were overwhelmingly negative, but I do think it was well worth the time I spent reading it. And I'm still looking forward with great anticipation to Ferris's next novel, even as I hope it is a bit more strongly edited. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Joshua Ferris has a great writing style. I'm a total sucker for all those literary techniques they teach you in school that may or may not be intentional. The one thing I loved about this book was the foreshadowing. I never knew what was coming next but my mind was always trying to figure it out based on what I knew was inevitable. So why only three stars?
Style was great. Content/plot... meh. Honestly, this man's profession had so little to do with the book was irritating. I don't feel either the main plot or subplot came full circle in this book, but the effort to make the subplot do so seemed so forced.

I could see this book ending up in high school English classes someday. Stylistic devices? Check. Whole book one big metaphor? Check. Good moral? Check. You get the picture. ( )
  startwithgivens | Mar 21, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Oct '10):
- This is the story of one man's unrelenting and demoralizing condition, a full-throttle compulsion to walk, which tears asunder his family and a talented professional career. The reader steps into Tim Farnsworth's life well into his medical odyssey, having been poke-prodded and prescribed into false hope.
- His long-suffering wife Jane, who remains almost uncannily loyal throughout, takes many wee-hours car drives to collect Tim from random lots and lobbies where he collapses in exhaustion. All very bizarre, but the story never slides into subtle comedy..
- We are shown Tim's dedication as a defense lawyer, as initial strategy is plotted in his defense of an (apparently) falsely accused man. Tim's tragic inability to help the client because of the reemergence of his disease is movingly portrayed by the author. A potential piece of absolving evidence is discovered while Tim is literally in the clutches of a walk, so he is helplessly transported beyond its grasp.
- As his "unnamed" condition invades with a vengeance, an epic continental walk ensues. Surrender and madness are inevitable.. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Feb 24, 2018 |
Interesting, if not slightly sad, story about a man who has a strange illness that compels him to walk and walk and walk until he needs to sleep. It strains his marriage and affects his career, obviously, and eventually takes over his life, more or less. There's also a subplot of a "murder mystery" of sorts.
It's a story about "til death due us part" significance, coping with illness and being family. All the characters have depth without being corny or unreal, that is to say they are authentic. The only challenging detail about the story is their endless bank accounts...but they have lucrative jobs, so I have to assume this is possible.

Also, for a "read by the author" audio book, the author does a pretty good job. Far better than my previous audio book! (Sorry, Ralph) ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Joshua Ferris’ 2007 debut Then We Came To The End fearlessly wielded the first-person plural to chronicle the fall of a Chicago advertising agency through its employees’ eyes. There is no “we” in The Unnamed, his superbly depressing follow-up about a marital crisis with no exit, but the descent is more personal, frightening, and ultimately meaningful.
added by Shortride | editA. V. Club, Ellen Wernecke (Jan 21, 2010)
Though his idea might have worked equally well as a short story, Ferris paces his scenes and writes dialogue that sustains the tension, walking a line between realism and something more estranged, catching the invisible shifting energy in the room when words get spoken.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Sarah Kerr (Dec 1, 2009)
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For Chuck Ferris and Patty Haley
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It was the cruelest winter.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol. His wife Jane still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.

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