Thursday, May 20, 2010
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.