The 150-word Review: Heads. Heads. Heads. Tom Stoppard’s tragicomedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, opens with one hundred fifty-two coin flips that land “heads” each time, prompting Guildenstern to posit that they are “held within sub- or supernatural forces.” In a way, they are. The improbability of the coin flips—and also of the duo’s fate—is written. They are held within Stoppard’s brilliantly absurd lines and, ultimately, within the titular line originally spun by the Bard.
And so, too, is the protagonist of The Unnamed held within the sub- or supernatural force of Joshua Ferris’ invention. Tim Farnsworth suffers from a heretofore unimaginable disorder: the irresistible compulsion to walk and walk and walk to the point of exhaustion. When his affliction strikes for the third time, Tim and his family are plunged into a remarkable struggle to hold onto to familiar ties and find order amidst a world that artfully has none.
You will like this book if you’re a fan of: entropy, Then We Came To The End, the countryside, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ambitious prose, The Myth of Sisyphus, and beating the sophomore slump.
Cliff Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): You know Norm, Joshua Ferris is a graduate of the UC Irvine MFA Writing Program, along with notable alumni Michael Chabon and Richard Ford, to name a few.