Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Unnamed

I hesitated buying this particular book, The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. The premise of a man who has an unnamed disease that makes him walk non-stop just didn't appeal to me. However, I had read a few good reviews and I was in the mood for a contemporary novel after weeks of Persephones and classics.

Apparently, this is a book that has divided a lot of readers and I understand why now. Tim Farnsworth, a middle-aged lawyer, has an undiagnosed disease that can suddenly compel him to just start walking for days on end. In the freezing cold, pouring rain or any type of weather, Tim will walk until he literally collapses to sleep. The disease starts to affect his relationship with his wife, daughter and his co-workers.

As I read chapter after chapter, I wasn't sure whether to quit or to keep reading. When Tim starts walking and stops, it's never clear whether days, weeks or months have passed. I was starting to get a bit tired of this unnamed affliction, but I just kept reading. I was expecting something to happen..something extraordinary. Just before I reached a hundred pages, a small mystery is revealed. Tim is working on a murder case where he believes the client is innocent. While on one of his walks, he encounters a man who practically admits to the murder. However, in the throes of his 'walking' attack, Tim is unable to stop and learn more from this unknown man. Ok, so I thought the book had just gotten more interesting but it suddenly veered off again to the trials of living with this disease. Jane, Tim's wife, becomes an alcoholic and Becka, his daughter, becomes his caregiver. After almost two hundred pages, I have to say, I lost complete interest and skimmed the rest. I can understand that the real core of the book is about a person living with a disease and how it affects him and everyone else and I guess that's what appealed to those that liked the book.

This book certainly wasn't for me. But do check out Thomas' review at My Porch for a different opinion.


  1. I was trying to remember the name of this book the other day as the premise sounded interesting. I'll Thomas's review over at my porch but nothing I've read so far make we want to rush out and buy it

  2. Sorry to hear this one didn't do it for you. I really loved Ferris's first book, but I haven't managed to get myself a copy of this one yet. I fear I'll be let down and disappointed, and part of me thinks I should just re-read his debut!

  3. Sigh. (Although I do understand what you mean about some big event (or big cure) that would resolve something.)

  4. This sounds like a fairly extraordinary tale at any rate!

  5. Found you through the blog hop. I'm a new follower :)

  6. Found you through the Hop and will follow your blog.

    Enjoyed your review of The Unnamed. I reviewed The Unnamed as well. I had mixed feelings about, which were difficult to explain - it's an odd book.

  7. found you through the hop!!!!

    Enjoyed reading your reviews, I've been thinking about reading The Unnamed.

    Visit me at Patiently Waiting Books!!!

  8. I found you through the blog hop and signed up as a follower. We share the same taste in books.

  9. What I found most interesting about this novel actually wasn't his disease and the way in which it affected everyone, but the writing itself and it sounds like that may be what you did not enjoy. The fact that the story does not follow readers' expectations, the idea that the usual narrative arc doesn't have a place here: that all feels especially appropriate to me here because the very structure of the novel mirrors the character's reality. I felt as though the novel simply could not have been told in any other way.


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