the unnamed

two thoughts occurred to me this morning after finishing joshua ferris', the unnamed:
  1. i need to take a break from sad and depressing novels
  2. when matt gets home, i am going to hug him and never let go
the unnamed is ferris' second novel and tells the story of tim farnsworth, a successful lawyer who has a seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to walk. as tim tries to define and understand his strange affliction, his wife, jane, stands by his side, unconditional in her love and support for him.

the unnamed, is heartbreaking on several levels. it takes place over, approximately, two decades and tim's affliction has a tendency to ebb and flow during this time. when an episode comes on, all deals are off and staying still becomes physically impossible. it effects tim's professional and personal life profoundly, so when the condition subsides and tim manages to put some of the pieces of his life back together, it becomes all the more heartbreaking when the compulsion resumes.

the isolation and despair that tim experiences as he moves through this life, that he suddenly seems to have little control over, is agonizing but watching his marriage to jane deteriorate despite her desperate efforts, is the worst. both, tim and jane, struggle to do what is best for each other and their marriage but, as tim's affliction worsens, any hope of living happily ever after quickly fades.

dear god, this book is so sad. david poltz, an editor at slate, accurately compared ferris' novel to, the road, by cormac mccarthy, saying, "the unnamed does for marriage what the road did for fatherhood. its depiction of a happy marriage being shattered is almost unbearable." but, like the road, ferris' novel is moving and will help you, at least momentarily, take a look at your life and appreciate the small things we often take for granted.

i definitely recommend ferris', the unnamed. i just don't recommend you read this if you are sad, depressed, going through a break-up/divorce, falling in love, or emotionally unstable. if you are curious about the tone or feel of ferris' work, watch this video from his website. it's described as, 'the unnamed trailer', and i think it gives a good sense of what this book feels like:

in other literary news, i bought my ticket yesterday for the elizabeth hay/miriam toews reading in may, which i am officially beyond excited for. now i only have two months to decide which novel to have toews sign (since i have all of her books). do you think she would be pissed if i brought all five? 

if you're in vancouver, you can find out more about the event here.


Natalie Jean said...

gah! that video is great!
let's make book videos

charity dawn said...

i know, right! it's such a good idea.