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The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
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The Unnamed (edition 2010)

by Joshua Ferris

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909779,684 (3.5)45
Member:TanyaTomato
Title:The Unnamed
Authors:Joshua Ferris
Info:Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Recently added byetbm2003, UICS, jd.salazar, private library, kmkat2014, lnmartin08
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  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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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
I found this a truly original take on the pressures of modern life and how close many of us are to the edge.

The book is about a man who has spells when he can't stop himself from walking, his body takes over and he just keeps going, whatever the consequences for his health, his family, his work. This allows the author to strip away everything superfluous and focus on the heart of what it is to be human - love and survival.

The writing is matter-of-fact and unembellished which makes the story feel even stronger. ( )
  lizchris | Jun 24, 2014 |
Tim has to walk. Why or where to he does not know, despite his efforts to find out. Existientialism. ( )
  ohernaes | Dec 12, 2013 |
A writer as talented as Joshua Ferris can almost be forgiven for making a botch of a second novel, especially when the failed novel is more fascinating than most other writers' successful novels. The Unnamed is the story of Tim Farnsworth, prosperous New York lawyer, partner with the prestigious firm Troyer, Barr. In the novel's opening pages Tim informs his wife Jane that a condition that has plagued him on two previous occasions has come back. This turn of events is momentous because whatever is wrong with Tim seizes control of his body and forces him to walk for hours until, exhausted, he collapses wherever he happens to be. Until this latest recurrence he has been in remission, and he and Jane and daughter Becka have been living a stable, steady life together. But no more, and for Jane the news that she must once again contend with a husband who may vanish without prior notice and then phone her from some unknowable location in the middle of the night is devastating. Tim is lead counsel in a high-profile murder case and makes a valiant effort to conceal his condition from the client and his colleagues. But things go from bad to worse. It soon becomes apparent to the other partners at Troyer, Barr that Tim is ill and when he repeatedly behaves erratically and proves himself unreliable he is stripped of his partnership. Despite another short-lived remission Tim eventually becomes totally dysfunctional and at about the midpoint of the novel walks out on his family altogether. For the remainder of the book, Tim struggles with a condition that gives him no rest and ultimately descends into the itinerant lifestyle of an agoraphobic wanderer and social outcast, sleeping out of doors under all weather conditions and occasionally ending up in hospitals and institutions, being treated for frostbite or else in restraints and being forcibly medicated. His wife and daughter move on with their own lives without him. Ferris's narrative is repetitive and lurches from one crisis to the next, and there is little holding the story together--certainly nothing as coherent as a plot. The tedious final section in which Tim crosses country on foot, heading eastward in order to return home to Jane, is hardly more than a random litany of people, places and things he encounters along the way. And yet throughout the book the writing is lush and evocative and often brilliant in the precise manner in which it conveys Tim's misery to the reader. The Unnamed is in some ways a virtuoso performance and Ferris was obviously committed to the task of churning out Tim's story to the bitter end and making a statement about the indomitable nature of the human spirit. However, one cannot read this book without suspecting that somewhere along the way something went horribly wrong and that the resulting work is a case of an ill-conceived notion brought ill-advisedly to fruition. Surely, this is not the novel that Joshua Ferris thought he was going to end up with when he set out to write a follow-up to Then We Came to the End, his much praised debut. It's easy to understand how a writer might not want to trash a work in progress after investing a couple of years in it. Even plagued by doubt, plowing forward to the end might at the time have seemed the best, or only, course of action. Only the author knows if it ever crossed his mind to toss the manuscript into the bin and start working on a new project. Whatever happened or didn't happen, The Unnamed remains a fascinating book because as we read we sense the author doggedly setting word after word after word down on the page, closing in on that elusive ending, much as his protagonist plods along, taking step after agonizing step, compelled by his unnamed affliction to walk, going nowhere, until the body expires. ( )
  icolford | Oct 20, 2013 |
This book impressed me, but it also made me very sad. ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
"The Unnamed" by Joshua Ferris is a weird book. I bought it after The Economist recommended it in its "best book of the year" list. Tim Farnsworth is a successful lawyer that is stricken with a strange and unpredictable illness: a sudden compulsion, that comes on at random moments, to start walking and not stop until he collapses asleep in exhaustion. Tim and his wife Jane went through two such periods of incessant walking and consulted with every possible expert (and voodoo doctors), with no diagnosis and no cure. The book starts with the third period of walking and describes what Tim and Jane go through trying to cope with this despairing situation. Ferris' writing is haunting, forcing the reader to continue page after page, in the hope that Tim finds some relief from this perambulatory madness. Whilst it's an intriguing and compelling story, it also leaves you breathless and exhausted. What kind of mind comes up with such a story? ( )
  ashergabbay | Jul 7, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (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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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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