Suzanne's Reviews > You Shall Know Our Velocity!

You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
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's review
Apr 20, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: metafictional-madness-and-pomo-fun
Read from June 02 to 30, 2011

I loved the writing, I really did. Imaginative and colorful and funny. There was just too much of it.

I think the whole book could have been trimmed by 20 to 30 percent and been much more enjoyable. It’s divided into 3 parts, and in my edition they have ratios that are almost too mathematically precise to be a coincidence. The first 250 pages were Will’s first person account of his and his friend Hand’s frantic, limited-to-one-week, global travels trying to unload $32,000 in cash through various bizarre schemes. The reader is left mostly in the dark, except for some cryptic references, as to why, and particularly, why this method. These two are supposed to be in their late 20s, but behave like 8 year olds on a cupcake binge (OK, 8 year olds who go to nightclubs and hang out with hookers). The story was actually an intriguing and humorous concept, punctuated by Will’s angst, the origins of which remain (irritatingly) mysterious.

The middle section is Hand’s explication of Will’s story, and it’s exactly 50 pages, bringing in a lot of meta-fictional elements such as his talking about the story as if it were a history of a real trip, which Will (before his death) had fictionalized to some extent, which Hand does not understand or approve of, when their original intent had been to create a “Performance Literature” piece. [This reference to Will’s death is not a spoiler, as it is disclosed on the first page of the book.] Hand’s explanation of their purposes, to proactively set events in motion in order to record them, his speculations about the reasons for Will’s fabrications, and his reference to some parallel events between occurrences in Will’s narrative and his own “life” after the fact all get very post-modern and self-reflexive. Now I’m having fun! I also liked Hand’s comparing the book to a Sacrament (said to be the original title of the book).

But alas, then we go back to Will’s story, another 100 pages exactly (with new insights because of Hand’s interlude), and again it seems to drag and bog down for me although, with the new information, it is better than the first part.

In addition to some philosophizing about money, poverty, charity and the relationship of haves and have-nots within the context of the giving, this also may be an allegory about our rushing around madly in life trying to find a purpose and meaning and too often it’s all wrapped up with our concerns about money.

All in all, I have to give it a 3, maybe 3-1/2, mostly for the writing and creative treatment and humor. It did need a ruthless editor, though, and I think the book would have been much improved had a machete been taken to much of the first section. I may try another of Egger’s book, because I did enjoy his language skills. There is certainly some talent there. And I really liked a movie that he and his wife wrote a couple of years ago called “Away We Go.”
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Reading Progress

06/02/2011 page 51
10/30/2016 marked as: read
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message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Leaney That the book "drags" is seriously ironic, given the title. Ha!

Suzanne I know! They are dashing around madly, but a lot of it seems just more of the same after a while. There is hope, though. A middle section of the book brings in some other elements -- a commentary on the narrative itself - that I am finding interesting. More on that later.

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