postscript || The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris

I can’t help it.  The Unnamed, novel by Joshua Ferris, has clasped its jaws around me. Here’s a long-ass quote from the novel, which I struggled not to include in my review, because that would be so pushing it. But yeah, I hereby push:

Maybe he had two kids, maybe he abused cocaine in club stalls—she didn’t know the first thing about him. It only made her want him more. She kept desire down and kept it down because of vows and obligations and an entire moral structure that could not collapse at the sight of one man in a grocery store, but it had collapsed.

She couldn’t recall the last time a person affected her so painfully. He turned to her and she quickly lost her nerve and faced the meat again. She turned back eventually. He was still looking. He smiled at her. It wasn’t one of those firm-lipped hellos with a polite little nod. It was a smile with locked eyes. He was flirting. She wanted to cry out. She wanted to wrap his tie around her hand. She wanted contact information.

What was it? Something encoded in her genes? Something reaching all the way back to the primates? The body talking. She disliked it intensely. The man’s smile was a totally negating force. It stirred complete abandon in her. It tapped into what was reckless and selfish. She saw herself stealing out of the store with him and getting into a different car and being driven past the car she shared with Tim where he sat in the passenger seat with his eyes closed, listening to public radio. A different life, a totally different life. How easy it would be. They would arrive at the man’s place and she would never leave. Give him to me and I will change. I will see the point again. I will discern the code. I will laugh into the pillow at my unbelievable luck. I will inhabit a bed for hours with a fullness I thought gone forever. I will not look at anything as a chore again. I will smile unprompted. I will be in love. I will have boundless energy. I will not complain. Get me out of my life and I will wax again. I’ll make trips to boutiques in SoHo and pick out garter belts and babydolls, and as the clerk wraps them in tissue, it will take every possible restraint not to cry out with happiness.

The calls in the middle of the night, the long car rides out to God knows where. The worry, the frustration, the uncertainty, the sacrifice. Let Becka pick him up from now on. Make him take cabs.

You know that whole splintering of selves bit? The distance between what we must do, and what we have to do; what is Right, and what is But I Want This So Bad? Jane Farnsworth is all over that, lemme tell you. Me, I like to splinter once in a while. Like now. I’m supposed to be neck-deep in work; but I rise from the mulch and the occasional candy wrapper to blog. Da-dum! Happy day, y’all.

2 comments

  1. I’m so glad to hear you loved this one so much. I had heard so many mixed reviews when it first came out, I didn’t rush out to get myself a copy… But perhaps that was a mistake!

    Have you read his first book, Then We Came to the End? It was one of my favorite books the year that I read it. It’s AMAZING.

    1. I was just so engrossed in the book–I kept reading and reading. I’ve seen the bad reviews, but for some reason, they never fazed me. I suppose my raving about this book’s also brought on by the fact that I was so certain I’d like it when I’d read it, haha. It’s not without its flaws–he does go on and on about the weather (and I’m not a fan of setting-exposition, haha). But still.

      I haven’t read Then We Came to the End, but I definitely will. :]

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