The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

This is definitely one of those books where I just want to say “go, read it, trust me, it’s amaaaaaaaayzing” and you say “okay” and you do and we talk and you’re all “that WAS amaaaaaaaayzing!” and “thanks for making me read it” and I’m all “you’re very welcome!” and that’s it.

But, alas, it just doesn’t work that way, does it?  It would be so much easier, because I just know I’m going to have a hard time putting my love for this book into words.

I read this book because Fizzy Thoughts said Rebecca said it was like Waiting for Columbus and, if you remember, I loved Waiting for Columbus and so, well, I had to read The Unnamed if it was like Waiting for Columbus!  Well, that and I had it in my small (yeah, right) “Read Soon” stack on my desk and I’m really trying to whittle this stack down a bit.  And it just sounded so. good.

Tim Farnsworth, high powered attorney and loving father, husband, and all-round happy guy, walks.  He walks when it’s cold.  He walks when it’s hot.  He walks out of his house in the middle of the night and out of his office during very important meetings.  He walks without stopping, even as he bloodies his feet and gets frostbite on his fingers, he walks until he literally drops and falls asleep, no matter where he is.  He has looked for help from some of the most brilliant medical experts around the world – and they can find nothing wrong with him.  He’s had two previous bouts with this affliction and now, it’s back again and this time, it shows no sign of remission.

His wife Jane is supportive, doing everything she can to keep him safe during his walks.  She packs a backpack with every survival thing he could possibly need.  She makes midnight trips around town to pick him up.  Yet this time, she begins to move away from Tim in her own way.  As Tim’s disorder wrecks havoc upon their lives, the choices they make for each only drive them further apart.   Can they find their way back to each other?  Will Tim ever find a cure?  Will he ever find the way to conquer his body with his mind?

There are so many themes at work in this novel.  It’s a story of a marriage.  It’s about commitment.  It’s about of family and love.  It’s about running away.  It’s about hiding.  It’s about of two people fighting against almost insurmountable odds to be together.  It’s about a man’s fight to conquer his own body’s limitations.  Ferris’s prose is remarkable in it’s minimalist style in that it evokes the desperation Tim and Jane feel as the walking takes over his body again and again.  His writing is simple and beautiful.

“He would tell her anything, of course. Yes, of course he would tell her that he loved her and that the soul was vibrant and real and death only an interlude. His banana, how she had taken care of him. She had come to him in far-flung places no matter the time of day or night.”

I was moved to tears by the end. Big, snotty, crocodile tears.  The Unnamed is heartbreaking.  It’s grim.  It is amazingly beautiful.  It’s hard to put down.  It poses questions about life, marriage, love, God, the mind, body, and spirit.  It makes you think.  Expect and assume nothing and your ride through these words will be unforgettable.  As for being like Waiting for Columbus, they are both about men with mental illness.  Waiting for Columbus is lighter, with its moments of humor and quirky characters.   The Unnamed is the darker book by far, but both are marvelous, unforgettable reads.  You should get and devour both.  And like Fizzy said “Keep a hankie ready.”

For more about The Unnamed, visit the official website, enjoy this video of David Sedaris interviewing Joshua Ferris,  and check out this interview with Ferris’s editor.

The Unnamed
Joshua Ferris
Literary, Psychological Suspense
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, a division of Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
On Sale: January 18, 2010
ISBN: 978-0316034012

Purchase from The Book Depository | Purchase from IndieBound

Personal copy obtained from the publisher. Who is brilliant. I can’t wait to read more from Reagan Arthur.
This is my first read for the Reagan Arthur Books challenge.

Other reviews by:

The Book Lady’s Blog | Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading? | Presenting Lenore | Fizzy Thoughts

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12 thoughts on “The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

  1. I'm reading this one on audio right now, and I'm still sort of trying to figure out what I think. I'm a little over halfway through. I definitely like it, but I don't know… I think I am expecting a lot. We'll see, though, if an ending is good enough, I always sing a book's praises from the rooftops. And I'm a softie… so if you cried, I'm sure I will too.
    .-= Heather @ Book Addiction´s last blog ..The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien =-.

  2. Ahh, every time I read a review for this book I wish I had picked it up in Amazon Vine. But NO, I am quite excited about the book I got from Vine. Just have to read it. I also really want to read Waiting for Columbus. GOSH, too many!
    .-= Aarti´s last blog ..Review: Under Heaven =-.

  3. For a book I started out not liking, I'm still surprised I was reduced to tears by the end. I'm glad I stuck with it, and glad you ended up liking it, too.
    .-= softdrink´s last blog .. =-.

  4. I have Waiting for Columbus checked out from the library right now. Once I get around to reading that, I may go ahead and read this one too, after hearing about all the similarities.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Sunday Salon =-.

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