Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: "The Unnamed" by Joshua Ferris

You may think you've got problems, but you've got nothing on Tim and Jane Farnsworth. They're living a fairly comfortable, two-career life, with the requisite sullen teenage daughter, Becka. Just one problem: Tim suffers from an unnamed (get it?) ailment that causes him, randomly, to begin walking uncontrollably at any time of day or night, until he collapses on the spot and sleeps off his exhaustion. He's already had two bouts of this illness, which disappeared as suddenly as it appeared, and when the book starts, a third bout has just begun.

This is a strange book that is simultaneously easy and hard to love. I was mystified by Tim's illness and wondered, as did other characters, if it was real, imagined or psychological in nature. Joshua Ferris created main characters with a lot of depth (even if the supporting characters were fairly stereotypical) that I cared about a great deal. But ultimately, I found myself as frustrated as the Farnsworths were with Tim's condition. While I understand some things never have a resolution, I felt as if the book dragged us along a little too much, and the plot took some (in my opinion) unnecessary turns. Ultimately, however, this is a captivating book, which in my mind, greatly surpasses Ferris' first novel, And Then We Came to the End. Definitely an intriguing read.

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