Walking the Line

Joshua Ferris follows his breakout comic debut with a novel about marriage and madness

Laurent Denimal / Opale / Retna

Ferris, 35, crafts a strange metaphor for marital distress.

Here's the moment when Joshua Ferris' new novel upshifts from good to great. The Unnamed is a novel about a marriage — hang on, that's not the moment — in which the husband Tim, a high-powered lawyer, is cursed with a bizarre affliction: every once in a while, without warning, he starts to walk compulsively, and he can't stop until he falls down from exhaustion. He and his wife Jane have tried dozens of cures, but nothing works. Then, a quarter of the way through the book, they get a letter from a famous neurologist, an Oliver Sacks type who kindly...

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