Sunday, January 3, 2010

A different traveler's wife

The Unnamed
by Joshua Ferris

Tim Farnsworth is suffering. From the outside, his life looks great. He's a successful Manhattan attorney at the top of his game. Tim has taken great care to hide the ailment from which he suffers from the world.

I can't tell you what's wrong with Tim. Nor can dozens of doctors, specialists, and psychiatrists. He's seen them all, and no one can explain why Tim has had several episodes, recurrences lasting from months to years, of completely uncontrollable walking. Tim walks away from everyone he loves and everything he cares about. He walks until he literally drops in his tracks.

As I read Ferris's sophomore novel, I couldn't help but think of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, also about a man suffering from a bizarre and unheard of ailment. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, The Unnamed is as much about the relationship between Tim and his wife and their daughter as it is about what actually happens to Tim.

It's a difficult and moving novel, well-written, but without the emotional wallop of Niffenegger's tale. Halfway through the novel, Ferris takes the story in a different direction, and he lost me somewhat when he changed direction. Even so, there was so much to appreciate in the novel, such as Ferris's deft touch with not just the major characters, but the minor ones as well.

I didn't love the story told, but I've wanted to check out Ferris's work and don't regret doing so. As with Tim Farnsworth, I will look forward to seeing what direction he heads in next.

No comments:

Post a Comment