But objective merits are not, I think, why you frequent my sandbox. You want to know if The Unnamed depressed the ever-living hell out of me. I am literally in a Pit of Despair, and I am going to write my review from down here.
The Unnamed has been spattered over the bloggotubes since its release, so even if you haven’t read you probably know the drill: Tim has a walking disease, wherein he walks until whatever makes him walk stops making him walk, and then he phones his wife from whatever district/city/barn he’s wandered to, and she comes and picks him up.
Hard on the marriage, y’all. And hard on the psyche, because except that it exists for Tim (and, by proxy, for his wife, Jane) this is for all intents and purposes a made-up disease. Have a lobotomy! cry the neurosurgeons. Cleanse your chakras! cry the homeopaths. *shrug* says everyone else. Hard on the employment, because Tim is a hot-shot lawyer and hot-shot co-lawyers tend to be unsympathetic re: ostensibly made-up health problems coinciding with your continued employment.
Did I mention hard on the marriage? Because that is most of this, and it is insanely bleak. Take the stress a chronic illness places on a relationship and multiply it by WTF IS THIS and stir in a surly teenager, for flavor. It makes for dismal reading. And as though the book itself were an illness, there are moments of recovery where you can sit up wrapped in a quilt and cheerfully eat soup, but then shamwow, a relapse, and you are wretchedly sad again.
And what the hell, me? I love books about the plague where everyone dies. I love books where groups of people go on a journey and only one comes back alive and when you find out the goings-on, they are infinitely more tragic than you’d imagined. I can’t pinpoint why one book makes me pleasingly dolorous and another one shreds my cheer into teeny, irrecoverable bits, but I suspect that I prefer sudden(ish), blazing tragedy over unrelenting doom.
The Unnamed is probably very good, and many people have enjoyed it, despite the way the final hundred pages or so feel like a long walk off a very long pier. I have a low tolerance for bleakitude, alas.