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The Unnamed Paperback – September 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In "The Unnamed," Ferris describes an illness that compels his protagonist (Tim Farnsworth, a wealthy and successful lawyer) to drop whatever he is doing at a specific moment and then walk to the point of desperate exhaustion. Not surprisingly this idiopathic condition (medical professionals remain unable to diagnose or effectively treat it) wreaks havoc on his family life, and ultimately reduces his existence to a war between two parts of his identity -- one of which represents the demands of his body, the other of which stands in for his mind or soul struggling for mastery over those demands. At times, it becomes unclear which voice has the upper hand, which represents "health" or the real Tim, which is even speaking. As the illness recurs, he wanders the countryside of many states and regions of the country, suffering frostbite that disfigures his hands and feet even as his inner self is increasingly disfigured by his madness. One reviewer here calls it a parable; I agree.
I would like to challenge, however, a couple of the observations repeatedly made by reviewers here. First, I didn't find the plot to be so strikingly original. I'm not saying that Ferris isn't the first to think of it in this specific form. But it's a rather simple narrative starting point: What would happen if I gave my hero a compulsion simply to walk out of his life? Taken to its extreme, where might such a compulsion bring him?Read more ›
This could have been a spellbinding book. Tim's enigmatic illness is an inventive metaphor for any mighty stressor that can bewilder and impale a marriage. Ferris also uses it to explore the differentiation between mind and body and examine the breaking point of the human spirit. He brings alcoholism into the narrative, which is a clever analogy to the walking illness, as it raises many of the same questions, i.e., is it controllable? Can you conquer it with will--mind over body? Or does the body overtake the mind? These issues were implicit in the novel, but meagerly addressed.
Too much narrative is spent on the grinding details of each walking episode and the frustrated search for a cure. Even the family interventions become repetitive after so many attempts. I was slogging through tedious, overwritten, and bloated iterations that descended into melodrama.Read more ›
Forty years ago, Tim Farnsworth would have been a character in a Louis Auchincloss novel. A respected litigation partner in a large midtown Manhattan firm, he is immersed in preparing the defense of a client who controls $20 million of corporate business and now faces conviction for the murder of his wife. In the midst of what should be intense trial preparation, Tim is stricken by a mysterious ailment that recurs in four-year cycles and compels him to walk to the point of exhaustion (his early treks evoke Neddy Merrill's frantic journey across Westchester County in John Cheever's "The Swimmer"). "Not an occult possession but a hijacking of some obscure order of the body," as his wife Jane thinks of it, "the frightened soul inside the runaway train of mindless matter, peering out from the conductor's car in horror." When he awakens in the early morning hours in a potato chip truck or curled up next to a Safeway dumpster, Jane, herself a successful real estate broker, leaves their comfortable suburban home to rescue him.
Adorned with every totem of success, Tim's outwardly perfect world quickly unravels. His partners (sketched with dark humor and the insight of a marine biologist assaying the occupants of the shark tank) no longer can tolerate his abrupt departures and remove him from the trial team and eventually the firm.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I truly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the interaction between him and his wife. It seems a long metaphor for addiction, or a lesson on tragic disposition despite a grueling... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hi I'm Troy Mclure!
I wanted to like this book but I just can't. Every chapter brings more and more annoyance. Crappy premise. Convoluted telling of the story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by AshDenver
It is with heavy heart that I write this less than effusive review, as I think Joshua Ferris's first book (Then We Came to the End) was funny & insightful, and his 3d book (To Rise... Read morePublished 4 months ago by White Rabbit
I read this book after reading my first book by this author Then We Came to the End which is a totally different storyline, I enjoyed this book just as much as that one. Read morePublished 6 months ago by webflower
'The Unnamed' is one of those books that starts off well, remains compelling for the first half, but fizzles badly in the second half. Read morePublished 12 months ago by lazza
This book is sure to be in my top ten, as well as yours. Like his others, this book is not like anything else you will read.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was one of the most unusual stories I've ever read. It's melancholy, well-written, and I found it very compelling. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. Ahlquist
I am sorry, however, I am not attracted to books such as this. I cannot evaluate it - I don't think I would even like or enjoy the author who wrote it. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Richard A. Roberts