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The Unnamed
by Joshua Ferris

Published: 2011-01
Paperback : 320 pages
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In an America gone awry with strange weather, New York lawyer Tim Farnsworth suffers a peculiar affliction: the inability to stop walking. While his wife, Jane, struggles to keep their family together in the face of the unfathomable, Tim alone must battle to survive pitiless surroundings, ...
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Introduction

In an America gone awry with strange weather, New York lawyer Tim Farnsworth suffers a peculiar affliction: the inability to stop walking. While his wife, Jane, struggles to keep their family together in the face of the unfathomable, Tim alone must battle to survive pitiless surroundings, encounters with hostile strangers, and the unrelenting demands of his own body. These challenges force Tim to ask life's most pressing questions, which he answers in a final return on foot across country to reunite with his wife and daughter. Stripped of all defences, and the sense of hope that lies at the very heart of the American dream, Farnsworth is compelled to confront the terrifying reality of what it is to be a human being.

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: It's back. With those words Tim and Jane Farnsworth reenter a nightmare they know so intimately it needs no other description. "It" may not be found among an insurance company's diagnostic codes, but the Farnsworths, a couple made wealthy by Tim's single-mindedly successful legal practice, know it too well: Tim's compulsion, at any random moment of the day or night, to set out walking for hours at a time until he collapses in exhaustion. They've survived two bouts of this inexplicable illness, which began as mysteriously as they ended, and now, as Joshua Ferris's second novel, The Unnamed, opens, they are beset by a third. Ferris's first book, Then We Came to the End, was one of the freshest, most acclaimed fiction debuts of the decade, but he's followed it not with an imitation or extension but with something thrillingly different. Like Tim possessed in one of his perambulatory vectors, Ferris follows his character's condition as far as it leads him, far beyond where logic and loyalty usually take our lives, but always treats it with empathy, grace, and imagination. His language is as exact and poetic as his premise is fantastic, and by the story's end you feel the title refers not only to his hero's strange and solitary disease but also to those elemental but equally inexplicable forces that bind us together through the most difficult turns of our fated lives. --Tom Nissley

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Was it her age or her rearing that made their daughter who she was?
Is Jane's alcoholism a mental illness, akin to Tim's walking?
Is there any life without an some kind of unnamed?
by floydsbo (see profile) 06/27/14

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Book Club Recommendations

A Movable Feast
by floydsbo (see profile) 06/27/14
Try making it a picnic that can quickly be \\\\\\\"packed up.\\\\\\\" Serve drinks in jars with lids as coasters.

Member Reviews

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  "Walking through the Unnamed"by floydsbo (see profile) 06/27/14

A man with an unnamed condition, an undeniable compulsion to walk, finds himself loosing extremities to the cold, drying out in the baking sun and leaving his wife and daughter behind. This sounds so bleak,... (read more)

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