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You Shall Know Our Velocity Paperback – July 1, 2003
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“Headlong, heartsick and footsore.... Frisbee sentences that sail, spin, hover, circle and come back to the reader like gifts of gravity and grace.... Nobody writes better than Dave Eggers about young men who aspire to be, at the same time, authentic and sincere.” —The New York Times Book Review
"You Shall Know Our Velocity! is the work of a wildly talented writer.... Like Kerouac's book, Eggers's could inspire a generation as much as it documents it." —LA Weekly
"There's an echolet of James Joyce there and something of Saul Bellow's Chinatown bounce, but we're carried into the narrative by a fluidity of line that is Eggers's own." —Entertainment Weekly
"Eggers is a wonderful writer, bold and inventive, with the technique of a magic realist." —Salon
"An entertaining and profoundly original tale." —San Francisco Chronicle
“Eggers ’s writing really takes off -- his forte is the messy, funny tirade, stuffed with convincing pain and wry observations.” —Newsday
“Often rousing ... achieves a kind of anguished, profane poetry.” —Newsweek
“The bottom line that matters is this: Eggers has written a terrific novel, an entertaining and imaginative tale.” —The Boston Globe
“There are some wonderful set-pieces here, and memorable phrases tossed on the ground like unwanted pennies from the guy who runs the mint.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Powerful.... Eggers’s strengths as a writer are real: his funny pitch-perfect dialog; the way his prose delicately captures the bumblebee blundering of Will’s thoughts; ... and the stream-water clarity of his descriptions.... There is genius here.... Who is doing more, single-handedly and single-mindedly, for American writing?” —Time
From the Inside Flap
In his first novel, Dave Eggers has written a moving and hilarious tale of two friends who fly around the world trying to give away a lot of money and free themselves from a profound loss. It reminds us once again what an important, necessary talent Dave Eggers is.
Top customer reviews
Needless to say, it's a weird story. Eggers is a product of the early-digital rumble of the 1990s. His story telling and snarky dialogue is a product of this. A bit of realism suffers from his quest for originality and sparkle. Would two young men really travel to the ends of the earth to give cash away to strangers? Maybe...but probably not.
The parallels between YOU SHALL KNOW... and ON THE ROAD are there. Like Sal Paradise, Hand is a rogue and wildcard. The character of Hand is annoying. He seems like the last person you'd ever want to go on an international journey with.
There is too much landscape description - as skilled as it is. There are too many pointless characters who wander in and out of the plot.
All of this is redeemed by the poignancy of the last fifty pages of the book. The origin of the title is an interesting subplot and the themes that get developed are worthwhile.
As you probably know, the story centers on 2 friends, Will the narrator and 'Hand', who need to give away appx $32,000 in one week. They set off determined to travel the world trying to do so. Now to me, that sounds like a fun, wild caper of a tale. Something that should make a tremendous story, an epic trek. But unfortunately there's also their 3rd friend Jack, who has recently died. The aftermath of Jack's death is driving them in this desperation to get rid of the money.
The characters came off depressing to me. The lead narrator Will is black-and-blued depressed, and not in the funny sort of neurotic way. His stream of consciousness/ conversations within his head were frankly too long and too frequent for my taste. I found them very irritating after awhile. Hand is supposed to be the cool guy/ good looking guy, but never really takes it to that next level. Sadly, I never got that sense of "Wow!" in this book.
I will agree that there was some great writing here and there, a few memorable incidents, but overall I came away let down and uninspired. And SAD, which is not good - "What is the What" deals with horribly depressing events, but that left me feeling moved and emotional and touched to the core. But with YSKOV, not at all.
Anyone who has traveled or has desire to should appreciate this book. Told (mostly) from a first person point of view, about two friends who travel east to "random" countries and give away money. Of course, details of the purpose of the trip and the money donating unfolds as you read on.
The only draw back for me is about 2/3 or so into the book the writing shifts from one character to the other, which for me destroyed the pacing. I found the second's character's writing to be boring and uninteresting... but there isn't too much of it until we go back to the main character. I assume the intention was to shed a different light on the events and act as a sort of expository card to "clue us in" onto things and reveal facts otherwise unknown. Still, I feel that it could have done just as well without.
Overall a great page-turner. I found myself reading in huge chunks and not wanting to put the book down. A fairly easy read and profanity aside, should cater to most age levels.