“Velocity” Not Quick Enough

Blogon July 19th, 20062 Comments


I finally finished Dave Eggers’ You Shall Know Our Velocity, and I have to say that I’m confused as to what I think about it.

The book was both charming and fast-paced and slightly boring and slow-moving. I enjoyed reading it, but it still took me about a month to read. I kept getting distracted and would move onto bigger, shinier books, like Sarah Vowell’s Assasination Vacation, which is much lighter and more fun than Velocity. I have to say it’s funny that Vowell, who is a friend of Eggers, was the one to steal my attention, but I digress.

At the same time, I liked it. I once heard Eggers compared to James Joyce, and it rings kind of true. Usually such a comparison would annoy me, being a Bloomsday nerd, but the frantic, racing style and meandering thought processes do strike me as a little Joycelike. It’s not like he’s Heartbreakinga Gertrude Stein, rambing nonsensically; he just follows the common thought-process jumps — in writing.

These thought processes are basically the point of the book, which is about a guy named Will and his best friend, Hand, who take a random trip around the world to distribute money to random people. The entire time, Will can’t get the death of their other best friend, Jack, out of his head, and much of the book is imaginary conversations he has with people and him obsessing over the past. That makes it sound totally nuts, but it really is interesting, the style works, and it made me care about Will.

But with that said, it’s definitely a stereotypical second hit novel, where it just can’t hold a candle to the book that made Eggers big, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which is definitely the one you should check out if you haven’t read anything by him.

2 Responses to ““Velocity” Not Quick Enough”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Hm. I read Velocity without having read anything else by Eggers and I pretty much hated it, at the time. In retrospect it doesn’t seem so bad. There are still quite a few scenes that I can remember vividly; I can’t say that about too many books 12 months after the fact.
    Still, I just felt like he was trying too hard. Maybe that plays into the second hit thing you mention.

  2. Kristin says:

    I can’t wait to see you!

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