The Unnamed is a dazzling novel about a marriage, family, and the unseen forces of nature and desire that seem to threaten them both.
He was going to lose the house and everything in it.
The rare pleasure of a bath, the copper pots hanging above the kitchen island, his family-again he would lose his family. He stood inside the house and took stock. Everything in it had been taken for granted. How had that happened again? He had promised himself not to take anything for granted and now he couldn't recall the moment that promise had given way to the everyday.
Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol. His wife Jane still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Despite long hours at the office, he remains passionate about his work, and his partnership at a prestigious Manhattan law firm means that the work he does is important. And, even as his daughter Becka retreats behind her guitar, her dreadlocks and her puppy fat, he offers her every one of a father's honest lies about her being the most beautiful girl in the world.
He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home. He loves his kitchen. And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.
The Unnamed is a heartbreaking story of a life taken for granted -- and what happens when that life is abruptly and irrevocably taken away.
In Ferris's remarkable second novel (after Then We Came to the End), a life of privilege comes to ruin as a result of a strange and mysterious illness. Attorney Tim Farnsworth thought he had recovered from a disorder that compels him to walk to the point of exhaustion. But now his walking disease has returned and shows no sign of going into remission. His wife, Jane, supportive beyond measure, does everything she can to keep Tim safe during his walks, including making routine midnight trips to pick him up. As the disorder takes increasing control over their lives, however, the sacrifices they make for each other drive them further apart. Ferris manages to inject a bizarre whimsy into a devastatingly sad story, with each of Tim's outings revealing a new aspect of his marriage. The novel's circular aspects, with would-be happy endings spiraling back into chaos and then descending further, integrate Ferris's themes of family, sickness, and the uncertain division between body and mind into a vastly satisfying and original book.
Almost didn't finish
Right out of the gate, the writing style of this book was a little off-putting. There were some really bizarre and jarring metaphors, that had no connection to anything else written. There are also eyebrow-scrunching passages like--
--"What do you feel when you see a black albino?" he asked. "Sorrow," she said. He stared through the windshield. "Me, too."--
Even in context, re-reading the scene before it to make any sense of it, I couldn't. I read a lot of bizarre stuff, and this was still a head-scratcher. As the book progressed, I started to figure out why the tone was how it was, but it still didn't seem justified. There seemed to be a disconnect between the characters and the narrator. Usually they are in sync. If not, then there is a reason, like humor, or maybe satire, as in Tom Perrotta's "Little Children". Here, it was just too discombobulating. Although, reading, i.e., Murakami, just because things are mysterious, bizarre, enigmatic, etc. still doesn't mean you don't go along for the journey. Maybe what the book was lacking at the start was an underlying purpose. I almost stopped reading.
What Joshua Ferris did get right as the book progressed was the pacing of a thrilling read, and, the frustration and relentless vacillation between hope and despair when a family has to deal with unknown illness. In fact, the book became excellent as I read on. However, despite some of the bizarreness of Tim's life, he still worked and lived in "reality", and it's hard for anyone to except that he wouldn't have suffered consequences for some of his actions.
So, bad beginning, and exponential improvement as it went on, but, I don't want to wait until I'm around fifty pages into the book before it starts to get good. Why couldn't the beginning of the book be brought up to the same quality as the rest of it? By what I've heard of Joshua Ferris' debut, "Then We Came to the End", I wish I would have read that first, and then bought this book. Now, I'm not so sure I want to read the other. I hope someone buys the book for me, so I can read it without paying for it. Oh yeah, I can just get a library card.
To hard ch
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Sysiphus meets ulysses
A modern day Ulysses coming back to an ever waiting Penelope, in a sysiphus like struggle against his own body's impulses.