Kelly's Reviews > The Unnamed

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
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Nov 13, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: adult
Read from September 16 to 27, 2011

Tim Farnsworth has a unique disease. Whether it is a disease of the body or mind is unclear to the reader. I do not use the word unique lightly because there is literally nobody else on the planet who has the disease. Tim periodically loses partial control of his body. He is compelled by his body to walk and he cannot control his direction or when the walk starts or stops. While this sounds like a silly premise that could be mined for it’s comic potential, the fact is that the disease is highly disruptive to Tim’s work and family life. His body will take him on a walk that will not end for hours. Upon its end, he collapses from the exhaustion to sleep. When it’s winter, this is very dangerous.

Despite the very interesting premise, I didn’t enjoy this book.

I can appreciate it as good piece of fiction. I understand what the author was saying about the nature of illness and family. I appreciate that he is taking time to expose the hidden lives of people who are homeless. I even liked the way that the main character was ambiguous in the first half of the book. What does he see and feel that is real? What is in his head? I also appreciate the writing style.

I just couldn’t appreciate the book and can’t imagine it will be one that I would recommend. It was just a slog. The book was unrelentingly dark without much redemptive power. The characters don’t grow or learn much about this unnamed illness that has destroyed their family. While they might have come around to a sort of understanding and learn how to live around the illness to some degree, it was so unsatisfying to me.

Undoubtedly some readers will likely enjoy this book. I would just expect them to be in the minority as this book is not likely to appeal to a wide audience despite being well written.
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09/23/2011 page 188
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