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The Unnamed

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  6,871 ratings  ·  1,311 reviews
Joshua Ferris' debut novel Then We Came to the End was both heralded by critics and a New York Times bestseller, and marked the arrival of a startlingly talented young writer. With THE UNNAMED, Ferris imagines the collision between one man's free will and the forces of nature that are bigger than any of us.

Tim Farnsworth walks. He walks out of meetings and out of bed. He w
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Published January 18th 2010 by Little, Brown & Company
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Gah, I hated this stupid book. I knew I hated it after the first twenty pages, and I only finished it out of spite.

I am a big enough person to admit that I was expecting to hate this, as I always hate anything that's too hyped, too anticipated, too next big thing, so obvs I may not have given it an honest chance, but whatever. It still was a weird, uneven, mostly bad book.

On the good side: Gone was the gimmickry of Then We Came to the End. Nicely done, Joshua; though your first book was widely
Krok Zero
[Upgrading from 3 to 4 stars because for some reason I keep thinking about this book even though I read it like a year ago, and because I fucking love the audacity of the opening sentence.]

What an odd book.

The first section really is magnificent, instantly hooking you with descriptions of the bizarre illness alluded to in the title as well as vivid sketches of the sufferer's life at home and at work. (Some early office-set scenes actually do offer an interesting echo with Ferris' Then We Came to
Will Byrnes
Tim Farnsworth has a problem. At times, he is overwhelmed by an irresistable urge to walk. Not just around the block a time or two, but to the point of exhaustion, regardless of the weather, regardless of whatever else demands his time, like his job as a lawyer, his comfortable suburban home, his family. His wandering can go on for days at a time, a sort of sober bender, until he is felled by exhaustion. His wife, Jane, manages as best she can, helping him prepare when he knows the compulsion is ...more
Joshua Ferris’s The Unnamed is a purposeless, relentlessly depressing book. I get the sense Ferris was chugging balls-out on the downer path because he didn’t want to minimize the darkness, but I think he lost his way when he chose to focus nearly exclusively on the worst moments of strained marriages and mental illness. Listen. I’ve gone through dark stretches in my existence, I imagine most of us have, but not every second of the day is painful and dour. The lack of any light in the characters ...more
If you took the scenes from Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks runs across the country several times and mixed that with some sections of The Time Travelers Wife, you’d have an idea of what this book is like.

Tim Farnsworth is a successful lawyer, and he lives with his wife Jane and their daughter, Becka, in upper middle class splendor. Becka has some weight issues and general case of teenage angst, but overall they’re living the American dream. However, Tim has an odd problem. He has twice endured per
“The Unnamed” is a fascinating account of a man literally at war with himself – a character torn between compulsion and resistance, body and mind. It is a complex and heartbreaking novel about the effects of disease, both physical and psychological, on a person’s humanity and his relationship with others. Joshua Ferris proves once again that he is a skilled and nuanced writer who posits thought-provoking questions without feeling the need to give tidy answers or even, at times, the semblance of ...more
K.M. Soehnlein
If I could give this more than five stars, I would. I don't think I've been this affected by a novel in years. Above all, it is a novel of great compassion.

The premise seemed both abstract and far-fetched: a man is afflicted with a disease, or a condition, which causes him to walk, suddenly, unable to stop until he eventually drops from exhaustion. But Joshua Ferris makes this more than a conceptual conundrum. He makes it the detailed, examined story of what it would be like to be this man, and
I read an excerpt of The Unnamed right before the release date (a year ago.) It had such a weird set-up, I couldn't get it out of my head, and I wanted to buy it so I could finish the story, and find out what the hell was wrong with the main character. Why did he wander? Was he possessed? did he have a disease? hidden superpowers?

Well, I'm pleased to say I managed finally to borrow this ebook from the library and I didn't pay one dime for it. PHew. Then I read it like a maniac in two sittings.
Destinee Sutton
I think I have a book crush on Joshua Ferris (or "Josh" as I call him when I talk back to his narration). I super liked And Then We Came to the End and listening to The Unnamed, I felt hypnotized by the soft rhythms of his voice. Oh, Josh. Your new book is so sad. Are you, okay?

Here's the plot: Tim Farnsworth and his wife Jane are happily married, well off, etc. But they are dealing with a strange unnamed affliction. Tim has this problem where he just starts walking and he can't stop. He can't
I listened to Joshua Ferris read this, his second novel. I hadn't read his first (the lauded Then We Came to The End), but I heard good things about this one. And from the very first moments, I loved it. There's two things an author can do with his characters—one is to present every moment of their lives and try to make them round and three-dimensional and all that crap; or, present them in certain moments and allow the reader to infer their three dimensionalness without having it shoved down th ...more
The presumably contractually-obligated followup to the blockbuster success of Then We Came to the End. Early on (maybe about 40-50 pages in) I came to that dreadful realization that this book, which I had eagerly anticipated since an Amazon algorithm recommended it, was surprisingly terrible. But having shoved it to the head of my reading queue and having spent $27 for it within days of its January release, I pressed on and got through. It was an undesirable chore, probably similar to the feelin ...more
Mi ero detta che prima di parlare non poi così entusiasticamente di questo libro, beh, dovevo pensarci su, perché è da molto che non mi capita di essere così perplessa e incerta sul mio giudizio. Infatti che faccio? Faccio passare una nottata, una mattinata, e a momenti pure un altro pomeriggio e un'altra nottata ancora, se non fosse per il fatto che nell'arco di 24 ore intanto il mio giudizio è rimasto invariato, che forse è inutile che io mi ammorbi con questa cosa del dover-pensarci-su visto ...more
My Lord, Joshua Ferris can write a beautiful sentence. A beautiful book filled with beautiful sentences, really. And he reads beautifully as well – sort of like that quiet guy who sat in the back of your Creative Writing class in college, who would blow you away with his writing when it came time to workshop your short stories. The story itself is really a love story of a family, that has to deal with a problem that, as far as they know, no one else has ever had to deal with. Watching them strug ...more
Boring, repetitive, two-dimensional. The walking away was a clever idea and would have perhaps made an interesting short story. But an entire novel? Nope. It just wasn't enough. By the time I reached the last Jane-Tim reunion, I was seriously considering skipping to the end, reading the last couple of pages and calling it quits. I was fairly certain I had figured out what was going to happen and wasn't interested in wasting the time reading it happen--slowly and boringly happen. Unfortunately, k ...more
N W James
Man, do I dislike giving bad reviews. I completely understand the amount of sweat and tears that goes into a novel like this one. I can tell you right now that I would cry if someone said something even slightly negative about my work.

This book suffered from being read in tandem with a horror novel. I don't usually read horror. I am very susceptible to nightmares from the slightest indication of malicious behavior. I needed a book that I could just relax into, because I could not read the horror
From the start, "The Unnamed" is a gripping read. What seems at first like a pretty straightforward storyline--a married couple struggling with the weight of the husband's ailment--snowballs so quickly, bringing with it so many huge philosophical and human questions. I loved the way Ferris showed this husband and wife trying with such difficulty to keep things together when their uncontrollable conditions work so hard to pull them apart. I imagine it's hard to write about a couple butting up aga ...more
Joshua Ferris elbowed his was into the minds of literary commentators a couple of years ago with his debut novel, "Then We Came to the End", a fun portrayal of the office environment, its indisyncrasies and downright surrealism. Ferris succeeded not least because of the book's setting. There are many volumes set on university campuses and country houses, but few in the mundane world of work - probably largely because most writers have never had a proper job.

In common with many writers today, Fer
When I was in 4th grade I wrote a short story called The Daring Four. My teacher, Mrs. Smith, had us illustrate and laminate covers for these and everthing. I thought my story was AMAZING, like would make me a famous 9 year old writer. Basically, I wrote about 4 young girls from Alsip, IL. A slumber party leads to sneaking out and they find a cave, etc, etc...battles ensue. I really thought it was genius. So imagine my surprise when Mrs. Smith told me that it wasn't great because there are zero ...more
Charlie Quimby
A lawyer with an uncategorizable and untreatable malady struggles to stay afloat with the help of people who love him. I liked Ferris's THEN WE CAME TO AN END very much, and though this is a different and much darker book, it's similar in the way it brings a mundane work life into the novel, showing how we make our living can be both essential and sadly irrelevant to who we are.

The protagonist's condition — a compulsion to be moving that causes him to leave safe places — is strange when viewed
Allison Means
Just finished this last night. Joshua Ferris, you've done it again. What an interesting story and concept about a man with an unnamable disease that causes him to walk. I loved the details that come in from the story of his life as a lawyer and the case he's working on when we experience his first encounter of the disease after being in remission for four years (or so), to his life as an absent father, and mostly about his relationship with his wife. There are some wonderful insights about marri ...more
I really liked Ferris’ debut novel, Then We Came to the End, which makes how confused and just plain bad this follow-up effort is even more disappointing. Gone is the sense of humor and the light, humanist touch that made Ferris’ first book so readable. The Unnamed is bleak and its characters thin, and with so little sense of who they were, it was hard for me to feel connected to them throughout this series of implausibly awful circumstances. You gotta hope that this is a sophomore slump, but it ...more
Tim è un avvocato di successo, è ricco, giovane e sano, ha una bella moglie ed una figlia. Improvvisamente una malattia misteriosa (non conosco il tuo nome si riferisce alla malattia) lo colpisce: senza preavviso le sue gambe cominciano ad andare e lui non è più in grado di smettere di camminare. E cammina per chilometri, salvo poi cadere esausto, ore dopo, nel primo posto che capita.

La storia, basata su una malattia e sulle relative conseguenze, è deboluccia in quanto abbastanza scontata e già
This book is sad and heartbreaking in so many places. I felt like there was so much about this book that I didn't understand. I do think it was more about marriage and faithfulness in love through hard times than some of the commercial reviews that I read about it seemed to.

I also didn't have a problem believing that it was about the way illness can strip away whole aspects of your life and pare you down to what bits of you can still function. I've had chronic health problems for twenty-plus yea
The subject matter of The Unnamed reminded me of a few other novels that I have read in years past. One of them that comes to mind is The Diagnosis by Alan Lightman. This was another book about an illness that could not be named and takes over the protagonist's life. In this book, Tim Farnsworth is a partner at a high-powered law firm, and happily married when this mysterious affliction occurs. His body literally takes over, forcing him to walk without stopping until each episode ends. His wife, ...more
Katie Parker
I was nervous going into this book, because Laura of 52Books had compared it to Nicole Krauss’s Man Walks Into a Room, which I hated. While I admit that the two do have some similarities (a man has a condition that no one else can relate to), Joshua Ferris’s novel is so much more interesting and captivating.

The book is about a successful lawyer named Tim Farnsworth who lives in New York City with his wife, Jane, and teenage daughter, Becka. Inexplicably, and without warning, he finds himself wit
Ron Charles
Joshua Ferris constructs his new novel, "The Unnamed," around one of Emily Dickinson's most devastating poems, 13 lines of frostbitten despair that begins, "After great pain a formal feeling comes." Keep that in mind if you're drawn to this book by memories of Ferris's witty first novel about the dot-com crash, "Then We Came to the End," which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. "The Unnamed" is another story about job loss, but the satire that fans relished in his debut has drained ...more
One of the review blurbs in the beginning of this book says "nobody in America is writing like this (sic)". I'd agree with that - Joshua Ferris writes in a way that I haven't seen often, very capably and beautifully. There's something spare about his writing, even at it's most florid - it's difficult to describe, but the man can write.

However. This book was like "Time Traveler's Wife" morphs into "The Road" with little warning and no segue - just goes from an intriguing medical mystery/love stor
This book made me actually gasp from amazement several times and has reminded me what I love about literature once again after a long period colored mostly by disappointment with current fiction. Joshua Ferris has done what so many authors today have tried, and have failed, to do: he has taken questions as old and as heavy as time itself and has both tried to answer them and tried to make those attempted answers especially relevant to a current zeitgeist. This book is definitely going on my list ...more
I loved, loved Ferris' first one, but this one did nothing for me. It's an interesting idea, but despite being a relatively quick read I just felt like it went on forever. I was intrigued by the idea of Tim's illness as a metaphor for grappling with his own aging and responsibilities, and I definitely see some promise in exploring the impact of serious illness on a family unit, but I got bored with how both of these were dealt with.

During the first half of the book, Tim overhears a conversation
A pernicious notion is loose in the world, that it is somehow bbetter to die in a defiant flash of youthful stupidity than it is to fade away, no matter that one's last thought in this world would then be the anguished discovery of one's own terminal idiocy. Dying young, stupid and afraid is held to be better than suffering; we're that brave in the face of life.

There's no shortage of suffering, and of bravery in the face of life, on display in The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris's second novel. Tim Farns
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The Unnamed 6 79 Jan 17, 2013 04:47PM  
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Joshua Ferris's first novel, Then We Came to the End, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a National Book Award finalist. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and Tin House, among others. His new novel, The Unnamed, was published in January 2010. He lives in New York.
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“They were like two inviolable spheres touching at a fine point in their curves, touching but failing to penetrate, failing to breathe the other's air.” 7 likes
“The long matrimonial haul was accomplished in cycles. One cycle of bad breath, one cycle of renewed desire, a third cycle of breakdown and small avoidances, still another of plays and dinners that spurred a conversation between them late at night that reminded her of their like minds and the pleasure they took in each other's talk. And then back to hating him for not taking out the garbage on Wednesday. That was the struggle. Sickness and death, caretaking, the martyrdom of matrimony--that was fluff stuff. When the vows kick in, you don't even blink. You just do. She had to be up for it.” 4 likes
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