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Joshua Ferris On Being Misunderstood

Writer Joshua Ferris has never met a disease he’s not afraid of."If I come across a disease, I'm pretty certain I'll get it within two weeks time," he told WNYC after appearing on the Leonard Lopate Show.

It's no wonder his latest novel, The Unnamed, deals with a man who comes down with strange and mysterious illness.  Tim Farnsworth is a laywer who loves his family, his work and his home.  Then, one day — poof — he stands up and walks out…and keeps walking.

Ferris says readers shouldn't get too hung up the motion theme.  It's not some cliche metaphor for running away from problems or surging ahead through life's obstacles.

"The walking means the walking," said Ferris, setting the record straight.  "I mean, to require that it make metaphoric or allegoric sense is to read lazily. It's to read as an 11th-grader reads. It's a disease that struck this man. There's no answer to it. There’s no diagnosis for it. There's nobody else suffering from it. And there’s no cure for it," he concludes. "That, first and foremost, is what the book is about."

So far, the book has been met with mixed reviews. But Ferris doesn't seem phased by them, nor, he says, did he feel any pressure to top the smash success of his debut novel, Then We Came To The End. Ferris just keeps on going.

"I think you have to be supernatural in the heat-of-the moment to not be affected a review that’s critical. But if you take the long view – that you’re a writer, you’re not really a writer for just two books.  You’re a writer for 10 or 15, depending on how long you may live. It's a little easier to deal with."