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The Unnamedby Joshua Ferris
The Unnamed is a very different (and much darker) book than Then We Came to the End, but Ferris's clarity of voice, urgency of purpose, fascinating characters, and even hints of humor remain. A marvelous and heartbreaking meditation on the mind and body and the nature of identity.
Joshua Ferris gives us a terrific character study in The Unnamed. When Tim, a high-powered lawyer, is struck by an unknown disease, he watches, helpless and terrified, as his life falls apart. When there are no answers from the doctors, the question remains: Is he going insane? An amazing story that will absolutely grip you. Wow!
"The Unnamed...points out how our busy lives have left us unable to experience the moment. '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.'" April Henry, the Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
Synopses & Reviews
He was going to lose the house and everything in it.
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.
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.
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.
"In Ferris's remarkable second novel (after Then We Came to the End), a life of privilege comes to ruin as a result of a strange and mysterious illness. Attorney Tim Farnsworth thought he had recovered from a disorder that compels him to walk to the point of exhaustion. But now his walking disease has returned and shows no sign of going into remission. His wife, Jane, supportive beyond measure, does everything she can to keep Tim safe during his walks, including making routine midnight trips to pick him up. As the disorder takes increasing control over their lives, however, the sacrifices they make for each other drive them further apart. Ferris manages to inject a bizarre whimsy into a devastatingly sad story, with each of Tim's outings revealing a new aspect of his marriage. The novel's circular aspects, with would-be happy endings spiraling back into chaos and then descending further, integrate Ferris's themes of family, sickness, and the uncertain division between body and mind into a vastly satisfying and original book." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Wherever Ferris goes, we would do well to follow, in order to learn about ourselves." Tennessean
"Ferris is an intrepid writer — he doesn't provide a solution (there's no cure for Tim) but he does explore all of the consequences. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"What starts as a compelling enough story...develops into a metaphoric exploration of the relationship between body and mind, the notion of free will, and the nature of identity." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Ferris has now given us two unforgettable novels: a brilliant office satire and a profound metaphysical meditation on love in the face of absurdity." Chicago Tribune
"With his devastating metaphoric take on the yearning for connection and the struggles of commitment, Ferris brilliantly channels the suburban angst of Yates and Cheever for the new millennium. (Starred Review)" Booklist
"Audacious, risky and powerfully bleak, with the author's unflinching artistry its saving grace." Kirkus Reviews
"Surprisingly, almost tenderly, and despite his unrelenting refusal to churn out a predictable happy ending, he turns The Unnamed into a most unorthodox love story about commitment and sacrifice." Miami Herald
This dazzling novel tells the story of marriage, 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.
From the critically acclaimed author of Dear American Airlines, a compulsively readable, deeply human novel that charts the course of three intersecting lives—a freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once prominent linguist struggling with midlife, and a New Jersey debt-collection magnate with a new family and a second chance at getting things right—in a thoroughly contemporary examination of that most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.
A compulsively readable, deeply human novel that examines our most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.
With his critically acclaimed first novel, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius “after something bigger” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) whose fiction was “not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding” (Richard Russo, New York Times Book Review, front cover).
Now, in his much anticipated second novel, Want Not, Miles takes a giant leap forward with this highly inventive and corrosively funny story of our times, a three-pronged tale of human excess that sifts through the detritus of several disparate lives—lost loves, blown chances, countless words and deeds misdirected or misunderstood—all conjoined in their come-hell-or-high-water search for fulfillment.
As the novel opens on Thanksgiving Day, readers are telescoped into three different worlds in various states of disrepair—a young freegan couple living off the grid in New York City; a once-prominent linguist, sacked at midlife by the dissolution of his marriage and his fathers losing battle with Alzheimers; and a self-made debt-collecting magnate, whose brute talent for squeezing money out of unlikely places has yielded him a royal existence, trophy wife included.
Want and desire propel these characters forward toward something, anything, more, until their worlds collide, briefly, randomly, yet irrevocably, in a shattering ending that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.
With a satirists eye and a romantics heart, Miles captures the morass and comedy of contemporary life in all its excess. Bold, unblinking, unforgettable in its irony and pathos, Want Not is a wicked, bighearted literary novel that confirms the arrival of a major voice in American fiction.
Joshua Ferris' debut novel Then We Came to the End was both heralded by critics and a New York Times bestseller, and marked the arrival of a startlingly talented young writer. With THE UNNAMED, Ferris imagines the collision between one man's free will and the forces of nature that are bigger than any of us.
Tim Farnsworth walks. He walks out of meetings and out of bed. He walks in sweltering heat and numbing cold. He will walk without stopping until he falls asleep, wherever he is. This curious affliction has baffled medical experts around the globe--and come perilously close to ruining what should be a happy life. Tim has a loving family, a successful law career and a beautiful suburban home, all of which he maintains spectacularly well until his feet start moving again.
What drives a man to stay in a marriage, in a job? What forces him away? Is love or conscience enough to overcome the darker, stronger urges of the natural world? THE UNNAMED is a deeply felt, luminous novel about modern life, ancient yearnings, and the power of human understanding.
About the Author
Joshua Ferris's first novel, Then We Came to the End, was a National Book Award finalist, Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner and New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York.
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