Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What Ought Not Happen

This is the second in what appears to be a new series of posts about things I'm afraid are going to happen at the end of books I'm reading.   

The Unnamed is the new book by Joshua Ferris, author of the clever and eerily on-the-nose Then We Came To The End.  I liked The We Came To The End, in spite of its rather precious first person plural narrator gimmick.  Its depiction of office life was perfectly observant and truly captured both the warmth and frustration of the family-like relationships you're trapped in at work.

This book is different.  The main character has a condition--he has spells of walking.  It's like sleepwalking, only he's awake.  But he can't control it, can't decide where he's going, can't stop.  He's been to doctors, tried home remedies like sleeping pills and handcuffs--nothing helps. When he's not having these spells, he's a rich, successful New York lawyer with a beautiful wife, loving daughter, and huge house.

Now, this is a Metaphor, right?  About how even when we think we have life under control, we don't, and about how what looks like contentment can mask restlessness, and probably for a dozen other things I haven't thought of.  The Metaphorical Nature of the plot is so overwhelming that I can barely read the book. 

And this is the big trick: the problem is that I don't trust the author enough to assume it's all going to fit together in a satisfying way.  I'm asking myself why they haven't moved to, say, a small island (since he doesn't seem to walk himself into physical danger) in a warm climate (since the big concern right now seems to be him freezing to death in a Connecticut January).  If the end of this book involves him moving to the Outer Banks to live a lower-key lifestyle, this whole book will have been a monumental waste of my time. 

Someone let me know if this book is worth it?

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