The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

May 24th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Sophomore efforts are always interesting to read. The consumption of such is inevitably unfair as consumers compare it to the Freshman offering. It is an unavoidable and completely understandable circumstance. And so it was with my reading of Joshua Ferris’s second novel. If you have not read the first, Then We Came to the End, you should. It’s good. So good that its excellence and enjoyment was the only reason I read The Unnamed.

The inside flap of the hardcover of The Unnamed tells us all we need to know about the protagonist and plot of The Unnamed:

“He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home.

“And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.”

‘Oh, one of those books’…my wife said to me when I read the synopsis to her. I agreed. One of those books indeed. I am a newlywed whose last novels read have been Madame Bovary and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. I expected the coincidental and not entirely welcome themes of marital crisis and infidelity to continue.

The Unnamed is not one of those books however.

It is reminiscent of Then We Came to the End with its elements of workplace and departs into the realm of domesticity and marriage as well. But it is the thirdly prevalent elements of science fiction and mystery that lend it its true character. Because The Unnamed is not ‘one of those books.’ You should read it yourself to determine exactly what kind of book it is, but I will tell you that it is well written in a plain, straightforward style that reminded me of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. It is moody and brooding and fractured and intriguing.

So Joshua Ferris is a fine writer and I eagerly await the Junior and Senior and post-Graduate publications.

But what bothers me about this book, and most books, and the publishing industry in general is the mediocre and thoughtless writing slapped on such finely crafted works by the publishers.

If you recall, “And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.”

And as I recall, having actually read this book, such action does not take place until 2/3, 3/4s into the story. Such copy is greatly disappointing, reckless, ill-advised, and inappropriate.

Ferris is lucky enough to be such an accomplished writer that the revelation of plot points does not hinder the enjoyment of his work.

But seriously…



Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

May 9th, 2010 at 8:38 am

If you share the affinities of Yours Truly, you know that Lady Chatterley’s Lover is David Herbert Lawrence’s “most notorious novel” and that it “vividly depicts an intense affair.”

You probably also know that Lawrence finished the novel in 1928 but due to its detailed descriptions of lovemaking and frequent use of frank language, it was not published until 1959. And even then, the publisher was arrested and only cleared after a lengthy court battle.

But you may unfortunately also share my limited grasp of such things being that you too never actually read the damn book.

Now that I have, perhaps you’re keen to know what all the fuss was about.

Here are a few of my favorite passages that are indicative of the great fun and great writing that await you inside the pages of this “notorious novel:”

“All the lot. Their spunk is gone dead. Motor cars and cinemas and aeroplanes suck that last bit out of them. I tell you, every generation breeds a more rabbity generation, with india rubber tubing for guts and tin legs and tin faces. Tin people! It’s all a steady sort of bolshevism just killing off the human thing, and worshiping the mechanical thing. Money, money, money! All the modern lot get their real kick out of killing the old human feeling out of man, making mincemeat of the old Adam and the old Eve. They’re all alike. The world is all alike: kill off the human reality, a quid for every foreskin, two quid for each pair of balls. What is cunt but machine-fucking! – It’s all alike. Pay ‘em money to cut off the world’s cock. Pay money, money, money to them that will take spunk out of mankind, and leave ‘em all little twiddling machines.”

“Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in being warm-hearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right. It’s all this cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy.”

“She quivered again at the potent inexorable entry inside her, so strange and terrible. It might come with the thrust of a sword in her softly-opened body, and that would be death. She clung in a sudden anguish of terror. But it came with a strange slow thrust of peace, the dark thrust of peace and a ponderous, primordial tenderness, such as made the world in the beginning. And her terror subsided in her breast, her breast dared to be gone in peace, she held nothing. She dared to let go everything, all herself, and be gone in the flood.”

And finally, a bit of advice for the Tiger Woods era:

“Folks should do their own fuckin’, then they wouldn’t want to listen to a lot of clatfart about another man’s.”