You Shall Know Our Velocity

I fell in love with Dave Eggers long before I even knew who he was. As an easily influenced junior in college, one of my journalism professors gave me a subscription to Might Magazine as a gift.

�This is just the kind of magazine you’d be perfect for, she said. She was right. I loved Might Magazine. It was witty, personable and irreverent, kinda like me (or not).

So a few years ago when “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” came out, I had to get it immediately. Any book written by a former editor of Might had to be wonderful. I read the book in one giant gulp and immediately started to con everyone I know into reading it. I remember tell my friend Orange Tim to get the book and if he didn’t like I’d buy it from him. A few days after he started it, I got an email, “yeah, I don’t think you are gonna have to send me any money for that book.”

I loved AHWOSG so much that even though I had the book in hardcover, I felt the need to go buy the paperback because there was extra-added stuff.

That�s how much I love Dave Eggers.

You can imagine how much I squirmed as the publish date of You Shall Know Our Velocity grew ever closer. You can imagine how my little heart did pound when I saw the McSweeney’s package land on my desk. But I bet you can�t imagine how nervous I was to read the book.

I can admit it, I was a little afraid. What if it sucked, just like the New York Times, said, What if AHWOSG was a one hit wonder? What if someone I was holding up as some sort of literary hero of some sort, really kind of sucked ass?

Well, it didn’t. It didn�t suck ass at all.

“You Shall Know Our Velocity” tells the story of 20somethings Will and Hand as they venture around the world in seven days to give away a small fortune Will accidentally made. You follow this kinda-dynamic duo through Senegal, Marrakesh, and Estonia.

You’d think it’d be pretty easy to just give away something like $30K, but Will and Hand find out it’s much more difficult than it seems. Plus, to make things extra interesting Will is going through some kind of weird semi-nervous breakdown phase, a lot of which stems from the death of their friend Jack.

Ok, I can admit it. I loved the book. At first, I wasn’t so sure. I finished the book a couple nights ago and now that I�m sitting here trying to recount it for you, my heart’s pounding a little bit, I’m getting excited and I want to quickly and excitedly tell you all about all the good parts. About the Jumping People, and the old lady, and the taxi-cab chase, and the Rock You Like a Hurricane, and the Estonian, or was it Latvian?, hooker.

Read this book!

Read this book if for nothing else to listen to Eggers talk about dancing with girls at a junior high dance. Read the book so you can put into context the wonderful line, “Put that heave into a small Velcro pocket in the parachute pants of your soul.”

Read the book and ignore the fact that it seems to be about Eggers’ own guilt over having made so much money off the tragedy of his life. Read the book and ignore that it probably could have been better edited. Read the book, please, so I can have someone to talk about it with.

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3 Comments

  1. emily 24.Feb.03 at 7:29 pm

    i know exactly how you feel. i too fell head over heels in love with dave eggers and refused to believe the cruel rumors i heard about his second book. sometimes i think i just loved velocity becuase it was eggers, but then i realized that i dont care why i love it. i will remain a loyal fan of eggers and continue to talk to everyone i know about him and his books.

    Reply
  2. Geoff 20.May.03 at 1:38 am

    First off, I LOVED THE BOOK!!!! If for nothing else, for the writing genius that he is….

    But I have 2 ?’s:

    1) How did he get the money?
    Are we ever told where the money came from exactly?

    2) What’s with it ending before his death….2 months I think….

    I would love to hear back fro someoen…..

    Geoff

    Reply
  3. Kirk 31.May.03 at 7:50 pm

    In answer to your first question, if I recall correctly, Will got the money though a deal involving a photograph taken of him working for some sort of construction company. The photograph is of Will screwing in a lightbulb, and is used to create a silhouette design for the package of a lightbulb company. I cannot remember exactly how the picture ended up where it did; I believe it was in a random newsmedia article or something like that.
    As far as the death aspect, I didn’t question it so much as think it was an interesting touch with which to begin his story. Perhaps there is something more to it, I do not know.

    Reply

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