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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational !
With a hologram for the king already under my belt it was a pleasure to pick up another Dave Eggers novel and find it equally absorbing. Two crazy but believable characters act out their dreams and disasters in an unlikely quest which on the surface is about unloading as much of their newly found wealth as possible whilst tripping around the world. Seen through the...
Published 4 months ago by J. Burrows

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but a bit confused
I had high hopes for this novel, having greatly enjoyed Eggers's clever, intricate, self-referential A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. A lot of other people liked that remarkable book too, so I wasn't the only one wondering how he'd be able to maintain that high standard in the transition from a semi-autobiographical work to a novel.

The initial idea...
Published on 5 Jan 2009 by Jeremy Walton


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but a bit confused, 5 Jan 2009
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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I had high hopes for this novel, having greatly enjoyed Eggers's clever, intricate, self-referential A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. A lot of other people liked that remarkable book too, so I wasn't the only one wondering how he'd be able to maintain that high standard in the transition from a semi-autobiographical work to a novel.

The initial idea is promising: Will and Hand attempt to recover from the trauma of their friend Jack's death by travelling round the world giving away money. Characteristically, Eggers inserts a rider before the story begins, informing the reader that the narrator is now deceased too - i.e. the story is being told from beyond the grave. Not all of Eggers's daring stylistic tricks are successful, and I'm not entirely sure of the validity of this one as it felt more like an unnecessary complication which had been bolted on at the beginning in an effort to make the story more quirky - certainly, I didn't think of it as having any effect on the way I read the following pages.

The writing in the following pages is very good: I thought he was particularly adept at conjouring up the sense of wistfulness that travel in a foreign land can engender, as you look from (for example) the window of a speeding car at people, streets, buildings, animals and landscapes that you're seeing for the first and - almost certainly - last time. This was the aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most, as I found I wasn't all that interested in the adventures of Will and Hand: anyone who apparently thinks that they can just turn up to an airport in the Third World and complain that their expectations of being able to fly off to anywhere they choose aren't being met isn't doing a good job at exciting my sympathy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational !, 18 Feb 2014
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J. Burrows (Cumbria England) - See all my reviews
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With a hologram for the king already under my belt it was a pleasure to pick up another Dave Eggers novel and find it equally absorbing. Two crazy but believable characters act out their dreams and disasters in an unlikely quest which on the surface is about unloading as much of their newly found wealth as possible whilst tripping around the world. Seen through the eyes of the main character, Will ;this is a journey that raises questions about guilt ,fate ,death, responsibility and how we live together .It may not give you any clear answers but I was captivated by its overall sense of zest and its celebration of life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You SHALL indeed, 30 Jan 2004
Eggers has to be one of my favourite authors! Ok so he's only written a couple of books but his style is fantastic. Will's (Eggers main character here) stream of consciousness dialogues with himself appear so honest and brave that it is almost as though you are inside his head. The realatiy and power of the language used and the blunt and almost desparate situations are so real that it is almost hard to believe that Eggers hasnt actually experienced this 'holiday' himself. A fantastic read that will have you pondering the make up of the universe and much more.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!, 4 Sep 2004
You Shall Know Our Velocity is Dave Eggers' follow-up to his Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius from 2000. While I really liked his first book, it seemed to get rather mixed reviews. A lot of people whined about how "self-obsessed" he was, and how it was "just about his life," but come on, it was basically a MEMOIR, that was the POINT, what do you WANT him to talk about. Still though, I can sort of see what they're saying. Some people want books to be more plot-driven, and I guess if that's what you like then, yeah, you probably thought Genius sucked. What I loved about it though is how, through the book, you felt like you really knew Dave. He's got this great, easy, first-person style that makes it feel like he's talking directly to you. He's also totally hilarious, and occasionally has these moments of, just, total brilliance that make you cry and admit that, yes, he is a genius.
So anyway, I think You Shall Know Our Velocity might have slightly more widespread appeal than Genius did. It has a little bit more of a plot at least, it's not openly just Dave talking about his life. He keeps the extremely personal first-person technique though, and you get the feeling that a lot of the stuff he's writing about is again coming straight from his own life. The main characters are two best friends, Will and Hand, who are trying to come to terms with the recent death of their other best friend, Jack. Will, THE main character, the one telling the story, also has a lot of money he doesn't know what to do with. He has the idea that getting rid of all the money, giving it away to strangers, will have some kind of cleansing effect - get rid of the misplaced guilt he feels for Jack's death, make him understand things better. So he embarks on a one-week trip around the world with Hand, planning to give away $30,000 by handing out treasure maps and taping cash to donkeys.
I can't really explain why I like this book so much. It's like - you know how you want all your friends to write books? How their postcards and stories on the internet and notes taped to your door are great, but what you would really love is for everybody to write long, awesome, incredible BOOKS? That's what this book is like. You don't actually KNOW Will/Eggers, but it doesn't matter. He's constantly having these ideas ridiculously similar to ideas I've always had and doing things I've always wanted to do, and his writing style is just so personal, that you feel like you know this guy, that he's your best friend.
Staggering Genius was incredibly sad at times, and someone told me that Velocity left them terribly depressed, so I was sort of worried about reading it. The book focuses a lot on death, so it IS pretty paranoid and depressing at times, but I thought that as a whole it was actually pretty, um, "uplifting", though not at all in a corny or roll-your-eyes kind of way.
I would recommend this book to basically anyone who likes to read (and if you don't I hate you). It's hilarious but not stupidly and obviously so, and is also very moving at times. An all-around great book. Along with You Shall Know Our Velocity, I recommend The Losers Club by Richard Perez and of course Eggers first book. Enjoy!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange, 16 Sep 2004
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This is an odd sort of book. It switches between being a story about 2 friends' adventures as they travel remote parts of the world to a psychoanalysis of the main character, Will. It is the latter that at times lets the book down, the bizaree workings of his mind taking up huge chunks of the narration.
The relationship between Will and his companion Hand is explored and is a strong point of the book.
Overall it's a good effort though, and I'd certainly recommend it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad yet funny, with shades of the beats., 16 May 2007
I finished this book very quickly. It was an easy read and I was spurred on to the end. It is about two young men struggling to cope with their emotions surrounding the death of a friend. They try to make sense of them through travel. One in particular is very lonely and tries to reach out to people by giving away money.Some people have said the characters are immature but I don't think they are; Eggers is just very honest about human emotion and confusion. Parts of the book are very sad but there is also humour to be found in the details of the travel plans gone wrong etc. This book reminds me of the beats - particularly On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It also reminds me of Generation X by Douglas Coupland. The travel goes hand in hand with the emotions of the characters - the one is a reason and motive for the other. This is what makes the book flow so well. If you like your books plot driven then this probably won't be your thing. However, if you like similar authors as mentioned earlier, and Eggers other works, then you will probably like this. I would also say this book is probably more aimed at twenty somethings as they may be able to relate to it more.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Heartbreaking Work, 15 April 2004
By 
Paul Isaac "Paul Isaac" (Amersfoort Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This book isn't A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius, it's more like Eggers' attempt to be a great novelist. And there's sufficient promise here to think that one day he might be.
It's certainly full of clever ideas. Starting the story on the front cover is good, but I read the book on the beach and the suntan oil had mostly smeared it by the time I finished.
Still the story was smart enought to keep me reading, different enough to impress me, but not quite as quirky as I had hoped. I guess I was hoping for just a little more.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 20 Nov 2003
I really liked the idea, and thought the book started very well, but it deteriorated rather rapidly into the kind of writing I associate with someone trying to justify/use a spell of travelling. I reacted similarly to Tim Winton, *The Riders*. Only I found Eggers even more exasperating because he seems to have failed abysmally in an attempt to say something highminded (if hackneyed) about a developed country's responsibility towards
the Third World.
The spiel about Egger's book makes comparisons between his prose and that of Saul Bellow or James Joyce. I confess these comparisons seemed frankly ridiculous!
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13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 9 Mar 2003
Freeflowing and fun, this is a story through several countries, of Will and Hand, who set out to give a sum of randomly-earned money to strangers, while attempting to rationalise the death of their friend Jack.
Will seems to be the volition of the book, Hand the physicality. In a magical-realist twist, we're told on the first page by Will that he'll die, and through the novel, we notice his awareness that he is writing - he even provides us with incidental photographs and scans; however, his knowing is never qualified: we're shown maps that should actually be buried and realise he's taken no camera with him... I can only think these aspects have a designed ambiguity to them, but we're never reconciled to the fact that the narrator knows his own death. How does he, can he, know this? Only because the author has decided to let him know?
Will chose not to give his money to charity but fly to second- and third-world countries giving it away. This decision is never justified, but is the backbone of the narrative. The narrator comments, money is the language he speaks; they stop to give US dollars to some women on the road, expecting their lives to benefit and change; this is an arrogant assumption of the narrator, and poses the question, more so with each donation: Why do these young men believe their dollars will affect with such profundity, when they never ask - What is the daily drive of the West doing to the welfare of billions, apart from the few peasants they happen to pass?
Thus, they live blinkered lives (a topical observation besides) - they haven't given thought to the inequality between them and those they witness on their trip; they seem so intent on ridding themselves of money, they end up throwing it out the window, not caring who gets it. You feel anger for this; in their overtired state they've benefited no one, and lost regard for the good that money can bring, being too concerned with the confusion it creates in their own lives. Why not analyse money on a broader level, rather than centric to the characters' lives and how they're affected by it? (This is touched on lightly when on a plane Will feels guilty about distribution of wealth.)
There are some technical innovations here, such as the internal dialogues introduced by Joycean em-dashes: for me the most amusing and poetical writings; and the frequent dropout of thought, marked in this case by the Sternean em-dash. His design is as sensitive as William Gass's, and though some may find the tricks (blank pages, Ford Broncos) distracting or pointless, they succeed, in a postmodern sense, if only as ornateness for ornateness's sake. He owes, this time around, something to John Barth and WG Sebald.
There were many typographical errors, and at times, passages felt under-edited; but the writing is humorous (the money pouch episodes were hilarious) if not slightly unworldly and immature; but that is quite apt for the characters, and is - being their main weakness - part of their likeableness.
But when Will compares cities he visits to places in the US, later commenting everything in the world looks like something in America - which depresses him because nothing will ever look new to him - at this point I wish he'd just stayed at home.
Will's grief is dealt with in a realist manner; it's overlong, but is heartfelt. He does, in his own way, attempt to digress discursively on matters such as existence, God, determinism and purpose, but seems ultimately to want to give us a chuckle: I think this book could have tackled some meatier themes.
Figuratively, there are some original sketches, the riff with the sliding door the first of many. The binding and presentational aspects are amusing, but words are what stick, and in this case, the book's quirkiness gives it its charm and individuality, but I wanted it to be more serious for sake of longevity; this is not to say humour detracts literary credibility - not at all - but immaturity (writerly, not personal) certainly does.
A Time review praised this novel for inventing the verb Van-Horn. For me this exemplified a problem: the narrator relates to first-hand foreign, humanistic, and natural experiences, much like many young Westerners: through reference to pop-culture, TV and cinema. This is common - a sign of the times - but these similes and metaphors have a sell-by date, will soon read stale, obsolete, or felt without true consideration.
I found this novel profound when read as a metaphor for modern Western life, as a youth, after the existentialists - whose realisations led them to nihilism and depression; but in a postmodern world, we're now born with these findings as fact. The world-trip metaphors life itself, while the constant set-backs and pointlessness of the narrator's mission can be read as things we encounter in everyday life: our modern struggle. The purposelessness of the mission is pervading, the only drive they feel is to get to the next destination; though once there, despondency and the urge to keep moving are renewed. There was nothing in the text that spurred this interpretation; one can find more evidence for reading its surface concerns; but was it designed by the author, an unconscious coincidence, or reader intertextualisation? All valid, it sealed the integrity nonetheless (also lending weight - interestingly - to symbolism: Jack's funeral, the beating).
This is an avant-garde novel which succeeds - despite its flaws - in being both a progressive and entertaining work.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth travelling with, 28 Sep 2004
By 
Stephen Newton (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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You Shall Know Our Velocity was one of my more literary holiday reads and it's a bit of a road trip by genre: Will's dragging his friend around the world getting rid of a large amount of money he's obtained by a quirk of fate. He wants to do something good, but really doesn't know how and the idea is to find poor people and just give them a wad.
Of course, the real journey Will's trying to make is one that will enable him to come to terms with his best friend's accidental death. He wants to make sense of the world and his place within it so there's lot of American naÔvety. Like the French tourists who say America pays for the world (unlikely) and his surprise that other countries aren't hanging around America's gates like smokers outside an office, wishing they could come in from the cold. And that's the book's purpose, in a way, to expose America in a new way, that is, by the points of difference and discomfort with the foreignness of everything else.
So does his character arc? Well when a novel's first person opening paragraph tells you this story is post-mortem, how can it do anything else?
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You Shall Know Our Velocity
You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers (Paperback - 3 July 2003)
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