Thursday, March 3, 2011

Walking the Line Between Illness and Insanity (Book Review)

The Unnamed - Joshua Ferris B-
Publication Date: January 2010

I almost gave up on this novel about a man who can't stop walking. The protagonist is Tim Farnsworth, a well-to-do lawyer with a lovely wife and young daughter. He has an undiagnosed illness that randomly makes him walk until totally exhaustion. Often times passing out from fatigue and waking in strange/undesirable places (like the time he woke up in an alley with a homeless man trying to rape him).

At first I didn't care and wasn't enthralled by the story. But about a quarter through this journey there's a scene where Tim's wife meets a handsome stranger at the grocery store (or maybe it was a liquor store?), it really has no bearing on the rest of the story but it's the point where Ferris grabbed my attention and the story began to matter.

After that things got edgier, sexier and sadder. Tim's illness kicked into high gear and it really took a toll on him mentally and physically, while his wife developed problems of her own. Essentially the once happy and loving family is torn apart by the unnamed illness and brought together by an unrelenting love.

I liked that Ferris kept me guessing through the latter part of the book, yet I was torn between thinking his prose was pretentious and thinking it was amazing. Finding his story intriguing yet cumbersome. It's a mixed bag but one that might be worth staying with until the end.

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