- Fizzy Thoughts: You Shall Know Our Velocity!

You Shall Know Our Velocity!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


You Shall Know Our Velocity!
Dave Eggers
July 2003
368 pages

Okay, so we've got two guys, Will and Hand. Will is our narrator and he's got $80,000 burning a hole in his pocket. Someone took a picture of him screwing in a light bulb (yes, I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke) and a light bulb company then paid him the 80 grand to use his picture on their packaging. Only Will feels like he doesn't deserve the money and he's determined to get rid of it by travelling to third world countries and randomly handing out wads of cash to seemingly deserving people. Oh, and Hand goes along for the ride.

So that's the basic story. Except there's more. Prior to the trip, Will got the shit beat out of him in a storage locker for no apparent reason. Consequently, he's not looking the handsomest. Their friend Jack died in a car accident and Will isn't coping too well. And, they can't always get there from here. Or even from there. In fact, someone needs to introduce these two bozos to SlowTravel. Because they suck at trip planning. Just saying.

This is pretty much the whole book. And it was entertaining and thought provoking (you had to be there) for awhile. Then it floundered (why do we say floundered anyways...why not halibuted?).

Lucky me, just about the time it floundered-halibuted, I googled to see what I was missing (come on, don't you ever do that?). And hello. It seems I was missing quite a bit. Like a whole middle section written by Hand after the fact that sheds a bunch of light on Will and his actions and his mental state. Unless Hand was lying, but we might not ever know that. Unless Eggers writes another reality check piece and re-names his book yet again. See, Eggers wrote Hand's addendum after the book was published, then turned around and published the new version with a different title. Then he changed the title back to the original and re-re-published with the additional section. What the heck? Can authors do that? And how come I bought a version without the mysterious middle section. I mean, that's not fair...Barnes and Noble should take pity on us ignorant consumers and post a big giant buyer beware poster in the Eggers section. Because what if I'd never googled the title and found the link (thank you wikipedia) to the extra pages that pretty much both negated and enhanced everything I'd just read? I would've finished the book thinking "eh." Now I'm thinking "WTF was that all about, Mr Eggers?"

Raych gave this book 9 caterpillars, but I think I just ran over three of her caterpillars with my bicycle. Anyone else read this?

12 comment(s):

Joanne said...

LMAO - best review of the year! Seriously I couldn't stop laughing after the halibuted bit.

I'm totally intrigued by this book now, I plan to hit the bookstore tomorrow and I have to look and see which copies they have *omg* mysterious missing sections!

bermudaonion said...

I read A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Eggers and it did the same thing - started out great and then kind of fizzled out.

bkclubcare said...

I adore Eggers and yet I've never finished any of his books. Can't explain it. LOVED THIS REVIEW! You give Raych a run for the money here. (that sentence ain't too good, is it?)

Melanie said...

I loved your honest review. I've never "gotten" Eggers and I'm so glad to see someone else ask WTF.

raych said...

Hee hee! *skash skash skash* (caterpillar + bike sounds)

Jessica said...

Thank you for this review! I read "A Heartbreaking Work" earlier this year, and I was thinking of adding "Velocity" to my stack. In ignorance, I would have gone straight to the library and read the original version. This is the kind of stuff that leads me to read reviews in the first place! Awesome.

softdrink said...

Joanne - thank you, thank you very much. I love the whole concept, but the book needed a little more oomph.

Kathy - I can't quite get entused enough to read AHWofSG.

Care - It's probably good that you haven't finished any of his books. I'm starting to think he runs out of steam at the end.

Melanie - WTF is pretty much a normal state of mind for me.

Raych - phew...I was a little worried you were going to turn into an outraged caterpillar rights activist.

Jessica - yes, be vewy, vewy careful about which version you pick up!

Beth F said...

My first visit here! Love your style. Hee, hee. Loved the review. Will likely avoid the book.

Lexi said...

I've only ever read Eggers' work in the anthology he does, The Best American Non-Required Reading. I've always thought that he was funny, although VERY self-aware. He's ALMOST trying too hard. I guess now I'll have to grab one of his books and find out whether it's the same deal with them.

softdrink said...

Hi Beth - welcome, and thanks for visiting!

Lexi - yes, exactly...he does seem too self-aware.

Veens said...

Hahaha! Damn Awesome :) This was FUNNY! and I will remember it ;)

Ladytink_534 said...

Omg lol: "I just ran over three of her caterpillars with my bicycle".

No, I haven't even heard of this one until now.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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