Joshua Ferris' debut novel Then We Came to the End was both heralded by critics and a New York Times best seller, and marked the arrival of a startlingly talented young writer. With The Unnamed, Ferris imagines the collision between one man's free will and the forces of nature that are bigger than any of us.
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 comes 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.
©2010 Joshua Ferris ; (P)2010 Hachette
"Arresting, ground-shifting, beautiful and tragic. This is the book a new generation of writers will answer to. No one in America writes like this." (Gary Shteyngart)
"Ferris imbues his story with a sense of foreboding, both for the physical world, in the grip of record-breaking temperatures, and for the vulnerable nuclear family and its slow unraveling. With its devastating metaphoric take on the yearning for connection and the struggles of commitment, Ferris brilliantly channels the suburban angst of Yates and Cheever for the new millennium." (Booklist, Starred Review)
"An unnerving portrait of a man stripped of civilization's defenses. Ferris's prose is brash, extravagant, and, near the end, chillingly beautiful." (The New Yorker)
Exemplary contemporary American fiction, the best book I've read in a long time. Heartbreakingly sad. Brilliant characterisation. I was fascinated by the idea of walking across America. Kept recalling something for me I couldn't quite catch. Kept being reminded of Walt Whitman, and the contemporary description of madness + homelessness is straight out of King Lear. An exquisite appropriation, complete with Shakespearian poetry. Pleased to hear at the end he did have Lear in mind. I must say I prefer this kind of delicate textual appropriation to that of, say, Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres.
I haven't read And Then We Came to the End but since audible has only an abridged version, I'll be reading that through my eyes.
The author is an apt narrator for this novel, and his voice seemed perfectly suited to describe the experience of the main character. There is an easy flow to the narration that is nice to listen to. This novel explores illness and its effects on the arc of the characters' lives. While the actual illness suffered by the main character is a fictional, improbable one, the way in which his work, family and self must adapt is thought-provoking. Anyone who has dealt with chronic illness will find threads to identify with here, but there is much in this book about the human condition in general. A little slow to start - I enjoyed the second half more.
There's always time for reading
Ferris' book lays deep tracks into issues like mental illness, marriage, family, career--all while telling a (usually) compelling story. The book is very well written--almost sparse--and even though read by author, he does a great job. The book stumbles in a few places, where author resorts to writing tricks to keep the book moving along, and the storyline is a bit predictable, but it's a good read. My only other complaint is stupid, too-long music interludes between chapters, but minor issue.
Joshua Ferris does a stellar job narrating his own work. At once deeply disturbing and frightening yet beautifully wrought tale. In no way does JF "preach" but you cannot help coming away with a new found empathy for mentally ill as well as homeless people and their families. I look forward to more of JF's narrations.
I get the impression that I am supposed to like and be impressed by this book, but I just wasn't. If it wasn't the audiobook, I am sure I would have stopped reading out of boredom. The audiobook is read by the author which added a unique interest and spark. It isn't as if sucked... it was.... was. The story didn't really have a point it was leading to, and it was just very depressing. I suppose that was the point, but usually something depressing can be used to spur us on to something.. but this just left me bummed out.
This book is entirely different from the first novel ....it is unusual, it is sad...beautifully written.
I am so very disappointed in the ending, I don't understand the whole premise of what Josh Ferris was writing about at the end. Yes, the main character had to go through some life altering experiences, but to end it with what he did.....NOT A FAN!! I think I hated it.
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