Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris... A Review

Why would someone hail a cab and open the door only to keep walking?

October is National Reading Group Month, and do I have a great book for your reading group! It's The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris and, after having just turned the last page, words almost escape me how amazing this book is. The Unnamed captured me, threw its arms around me and didn't let me go until the very last word. It's about being in love & the strength needed to endure lifes' detours together, the simple joys that we sometimes overlook until it is too late, and the forces of nature that can grab ahold of us for no good reason, threatening all that we know & love. Here's the blurb from the publisher...

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.

Author Joshua Ferris paints Tim Farnsworth as a workaholic. His life is wrapped up in the prestigious law firm where he is a partner. One day he left work... he hailed a cab, got in the cab, opened the other door of the cab, and got out of the cab... he started walking... and he didn't stop walking until his body was so exhausted he sat down on a bench and went to sleep. He woke up in the freezing cold... it was snowing... his fingers and toes were frostbitten. But this was only the start, you see Tim Farnsworth suffers from this condition where he is compelled to walk. He will have to walk until his body is exhausted, no matter how long it takes or where he is at the time that it overtakes him.

At first I thought The Unnamed might be a light-hearted story and that Tim's walking would lead him into some funny situations. But I soon discovered that Tim's walking was no joke... Tim's compulsion created serious issues for his safety- physically if not mentally. If he was underdressed he could get frostbite. He could walk, and wake up, anywhere. He could be attacked or become injured. Tim's wife Jane waited for the phone calls to tell her where to pick Tim up, but soon the phone calls stretched out longer than the night... Tim was such a sympathetic character- what he went through, the internal torture as well as the inability to control his walking, was so well written. You could really feel what he was going through. The frustrations with trying to cure what no doctor could diagnose. And you could empathize with what his wife and his daughter were also going through - their frustrations while trying everything in their control to help.

The story doesn't just spiral down though- Tim has remissions and you begin to hope that he will overcome this "unnamed" disease. His family has hopes for him too. How he deals with his attacks, his job, his co-workers & clients, and his disease makes for some great reading. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris is both compelling and tragic...

Grab the Reading Guide for The Unnamed! Even if you read this book on your own, the reading guide is a great way to enrich your reading experience. Learn more about Joshua Ferris at the author's website. Read an excerpt of The Unnamed!

*I want to thank Hachette Books for sending along a copy of this great book for review!

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