By Joshua Ferris
(Reagan Arthur Books, Hardcover, 9780316034012, 320pp.)
Publication Date: December 22, 2009
I read the advanced reader copy of this book several months ago and found myself strangely moved by the story of this family. It is not a warm story and certainly not a feel good book and I admit I found it somewhat disturbing. The reviews have been mixed but it is a book that I find myself thinking about, even now, several months after having read it.
Shortly after reading "The Unnamed" I was glancing through a publisher catalog and came across another title "The Dancing Plague - The Strange, True Story of an Extraordinary Illness" by John Waller. In this non-fiction book, Waller presents several ideas as to what could cause someone to dance, without stopping, in some cases so severe that the afflicted could actually be said to dance themselves to death.
While the time period and circumstances studied in the two books are very different and one is fiction and the other non-fiction, there are some definite similarities in the way the authors look at human nature and the effect of societal norms.
Here is a trailer for "The Unnamed":
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the January 2010 Indie Next List
“Tim Farnsworth, a respected litigation attorney for a high-powered Manhattan law firm, is seized by a bizarre illness: He cannot stop walking. Whether taken as a form of mental or physical illness or read as an allegorical tale, The Unnamed is an absolutely heartbreaking story of love, marriage, family, and what it means to be successful in today's society.”
-- Joni Montover, Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX
He was going to lose the house and everything in it.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.
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.
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 dazzling novel about a marriage and a family and the unseen forces of nature and desire that seem to threaten them both. It is the heartbreaking story of a life taken for granted and what happens when that life is abruptly and irrevocably taken away.