The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Lit “It boy” Joshua Ferris released his new book, The Unnamed and it is phenomenal.  I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t that big of a fan of his first novel, Then We Came To The End his tales of a group of lawyers and the ins and outs of a growling workplace.  That book is filled with annoying bantering and diatribes from characters that I didn’t give 2 shits about.  With The Unnamed he finds his voice and it’s one that will resonate with you all year-long.

Tim Farnsworth has a disease and it is tearing apart his marriage and his life. For some unknown reason he can’t seem to stop walking.  He will get up in the middle of the night and start to wonder off into the woods or down the street and walk and walk until he falls down, falls back asleep wherever that is.  He can’t stop it he can only contain it and that is by being handcuffed to the bed or watched all night by his daughter.  What moves the pace along is his relationship with his wife through the first couple of chapters then his daughter.  You can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of catharsis writing this book.  I asked him recently at a book reading and he didn’t have anyone in mind when writing the novel but he did “walk a lot”  “all over Brooklyn” just to get in the mind-set of Tim.

One can’t somehow find inner feelings buried deep in the writing of The Unnamed and I found it reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s works.  There’s a hilarious section of the story where he is trying to stay awake and carry on a conversation with his trying to be supportive daughter about a former co-worker and his sexual exploits.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the novel at hand but it’s a great comedy segue.

Ferris’ writing is always astute and focused on the point he’s trying to make but it’s his familial almost paternal-like instincts that give this much more mature second novel its guts.  Surely to be one of the better reads of the year.

Rating: 9 out of 10