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Review: The Unnamed

May 11, 2010

By all accounts, Tim and Jane Farnsworth are happily married.  He’s a partner in a law firm and she’s a real estate agent; their daughter has some struggles, but she’s basically a good kid.  Their world is shattered when Tim has a recurrence of  an unnamed disease – the disease makes him feel compelled to walk until he drops from exhaustion.  They’ve been through this before, so they think they know how to deal with it, but this time it’s different.  It takes over their lives and the dynamics of the family change completely as they struggle to find a diagnosis and learn to cope with the disease.

I listened to the audio version of The Unnamed, written and read by Joshua Ferris, and found it sad and engrossing at the same time.  The audio version is on 7 CDs and is approximately 9 hours long.  Joshua does a great job reading the book and it was interesting to hear what parts of the story he felt deserved the most emphasis.

Tim can’t bear to think his disease might be psychological rather than physical, while his family really doesn’t care – they just love him and want to get help for him.  Even though Tim is the main character, this is really the story of the family, and found myself caught up in their tale.

The Unnamed is the story of a deep love, but also of our attitudes toward mental illness.  Once I finished listening to the book all I could think was “Wow,” and I’m still mulling it all over in my head.  This book really made me think and I have a feeling it will stick with me for a long time.  There’s an interesting interview with the author at the end of the audiobook.

Challenges: The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2010 6:23 am

    Oh kathy, thanks for this review. I have the ARC but might prefer the audio I think. Need to see if the library has it. thanks again

  2. May 11, 2010 6:40 am

    I listened to the audio as well (review coming in about a week). Ferris didn’t do a bad job at narrating really. He was very pleasant to listen to. I really struggled with this book. It was very well-written, but it left me confused and depressed. It raises a thought-provoking issue though, and that is how you deal with a family-member that has an unnamed affliction? I have two friends that have kids with this issue. You just don’t get the understanding or support that you would if they were autistic or epileptic for example.

  3. May 11, 2010 7:08 am

    Gosh, I’ve wanted to read this (I read his first), but something keeps me away. It’s interesting to see your perspective on it.

  4. May 11, 2010 7:15 am

    I like the new look of your blog! I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile after reading so many good reviews.

  5. May 11, 2010 7:47 am

    Really interesting, he’s obsessed with walking. I’ve never heard of this disease. I would really like to read this book. Good review.

    Love your new look.

  6. May 11, 2010 7:51 am

    I haven’t gotten to this one yet. I have heard that it is very dark, so I am working my way up to it.

    Great new look!

  7. May 11, 2010 7:53 am

    This sounds like a compelling read. I enjoy your review!

  8. May 11, 2010 8:30 am

    I hadn’t heard of this book before. It does sound interesting, what with mental illness and people reactions. Thanks for the honest review. Off to add it!

  9. May 11, 2010 8:42 am

    I listened to it in March and still think about it from time to time. It’s one of my favorite books of the year so far.

  10. May 11, 2010 8:51 am

    My reaction exactly…the premise is so unique and original…this one definitely stays with you.

  11. May 11, 2010 9:20 am

    I read it earlier this year and like you said, it has stuck with me. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  12. May 11, 2010 9:46 am

    I “read” The Unnamed on audio as well and really enjoyed the audio production. I think Ferris did a great job of channeling Tim’s personality and the feel of the novel with his voice and articulation. Also the story will definitely stick with me for a long time, as you said.

  13. May 11, 2010 9:49 am

    I just won this audiobook! I am waiting for a road trip (hopefully coming soon) to listen to it. I prefer to listen all at once rather than in segments.

  14. May 11, 2010 10:11 am

    This book has been on my to-read list for a while now. You’ve encouraged me to put it higher up on the list. Thanks!

  15. May 11, 2010 10:42 am

    I have heard such good things about this book and really find the premise very interesting. I find it really curious that Tim’s problem may be a form of mental illness, though that is not explicitly stated. I would love to read this and see what I make of it and the fact that it’s gotten such rave reviews only makes me more determined to do so!! Wonderful review, Kathy! I am so glad you loved this book!

  16. May 11, 2010 10:44 am

    Sounds interesting. Thanks for your review!

  17. May 11, 2010 11:08 am

    I read this a while back and for the first half of the book at least, I kept waiting for them to find something physcially wrong with him. The ending of the book was so sad and moving for me. I agree it is the kind of book that will stick with you.

  18. May 11, 2010 11:23 am

    This sounds great, I’m thinking this might just be the next audio book that I will check out.

  19. May 11, 2010 12:02 pm

    I like the sound of this. I walk as a hobby, but I think even I would struggle if I was compelled to walk to exhaustion. The pain in my muscles would be unbelievable. Definitely will add this one to my list.

  20. May 11, 2010 1:11 pm

    This is actually one book that I might re-read on audio. I’d love to hear his voice and what he stresses. Great review.

  21. May 11, 2010 1:38 pm

    I’ve been on the fence about this one. Sounds like the audio version is a great way to go.

  22. May 11, 2010 1:40 pm

    I definately want to read this book. It sounds great.

  23. May 11, 2010 2:53 pm

    I’m definitely interested in social attitudes towards mental illness, so I’ll keep this book in mind.

  24. May 11, 2010 3:13 pm

    Initially I didn’t think this was something for me, but as I kept reading your review and the many comments, maybe this is both an interesting and touching read. Thanks for a great review.

  25. May 11, 2010 3:38 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book. :]

  26. May 11, 2010 3:45 pm

    This sounds interesting. I like books that encourage you to open your mind. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar did that for me in regards to depression.

  27. May 11, 2010 3:51 pm

    I won this audiobook from another blogger – glad to hear it was an interesting book, I’m looking forward to listening to it!

  28. May 11, 2010 4:12 pm

    I read “Then We Came to the End” – it sounds so different from this. Have you read “Then We Came to the End”? If so, what did you think?

  29. Kathleen permalink
    May 11, 2010 4:27 pm

    I just snagged this one at the library last week. I hope I have time to read it before it has to be returned. Thanks for the great review!

  30. May 11, 2010 5:07 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your take on this one…I’ve read several different views of this one. I’m not sure yet if I’ll read it or not, but if I see it at the library I just may bring it home.

  31. May 11, 2010 7:30 pm

    Sounds like a really great and thought provoking book. I’m adding it to my list.

  32. May 11, 2010 8:03 pm

    I have this on my Kindle waiting patiently to be read … it just sounds so compelling.

  33. May 11, 2010 11:27 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book, but then I also saw a couple of reviews from people who couldn’t stand it. It seems to be one of those that people either love or hate, which I usually see as a good thing because it’s bringing out a strong emotional response in the reader.

  34. May 12, 2010 2:45 am

    I can see where this book could stay with you for a long time. I hope by the end there was some solution and it could let you walk away in peace.

  35. May 12, 2010 10:05 am

    I have a copy of this book on my shelf. Between your review and Rebecca’s, I really need to start reading this!

  36. May 12, 2010 10:28 am

    I agree that this was a powerful book that really packed a ‘Wow’ factor. I also enjoyed the audioversion of this book and it is something about it is still tugging at my mind.

  37. May 12, 2010 10:29 am

    This one is on my list of “to-reads.” Perhaps I will get to it quicker now that I have a Kindle. You think? I’ve already added a pile of books to my Kindle, which of course is in addition to my ever-growing pile.

  38. May 12, 2010 10:56 am

    This book is on the to-read list. sounds good!

  39. May 12, 2010 1:30 pm

    I listened to this one on audio, and I really enjoyed it. I was on a road trip in the northeast, and I decided to stay off the interstate and drive through towns. I didn’t realize how perfectly my choice complemented the book, but it definitely increased my enjoyment of the book.

  40. May 12, 2010 2:29 pm

    It sounds like a little too thought-provoking, not one of the escapist books I tend to read.

  41. karenk permalink
    May 12, 2010 4:16 pm

    i’m ‘listening’ to this book this week…amazing!

  42. May 13, 2010 8:11 am

    I just skimmed this review, because I have the audio here waiting for me.

  43. May 14, 2010 12:51 pm

    I think it was Dawn’s review that first piqued my interest, and after reading yours, it’s definitely on my to-read list.


  44. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 14, 2010 1:33 pm

    I do usually prefer when the author reads his book and I love the interviews at the end. This one looks compelling.

  45. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 14, 2010 1:33 pm

    I do usually prefer when the author reads his book and I love the interviews at the end. This one looks compelling.

  46. May 16, 2010 9:03 am

    Hi Kathy, I’ve been reading a lot about mental illness and now I want to read this as well. Thanks for highlighting it!

  47. May 16, 2010 4:37 pm

    An audiobook read by the author is always a risky proposition – great writers are not always great readers, and a bad reading can ruin the whole book. Sounds like this was a win on both counts. Thanks for the great review!

  48. May 16, 2010 9:00 pm

    I’ve read mixed reviews of this one, but the more I hear of it, the more intrigued I become. Thanks for your great review, Kathy.

  49. May 18, 2010 9:07 am

    You know how much I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. I’m not sure ‘enjoyed’ is the right word – I was so totally drawn into the story of Tim’s plight, and the reactions of family and friends, plus his own way of coping with it.

    Joshua Ferris is a great narrator for this audio, isn’t he?!

  50. May 31, 2010 1:09 pm

    I’m looking forward to this one, and I hope it lingers in my mind like it did for you.

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