Finally, I finished Dave Eggers’ You Shall Know Our Velocity. Isn’t that a great title? The book is about two friends, Will and Hand, who embark upon a week-long trip around the world to give away $32,000. Why? Something about the recent loss of their friend Jack, who was killed when a trucker drove over his car. The motivation of the two friends, especially Will, the main protagonist, becomes clearer as the book progresses, but by the end I wasn’t paying attention.
To be fair, part of the problem is subject matter. The “traveling men supposedly experiencing profound changes and embracing life but really just behaving like assholes” genre is so tedious. I didn’t get On the Road either.
My other beef with You Shall Know Our Velocity is also a matter of taste. The front of the paperback edition features a quote from the New York Times book review: “Eggers’s frisbee sentences sail, spin, hover, circle and come back to the reader like gifts of gravity and grace.” True, Eggers is imaginative and talented, but he relies too much on clever devices that soon begin to seem like crutches (e.g., the conversations in Will’s head).
Experimenting with the written word is a good thing if it’s done with purpose and furthers the author’s objective. I’m not convinced that You Shall Know Our Velocity meets that standard. I admit, however, that my prejudice against male road-trip books is probably clouding my judgment, so I’ll leave it at this: I can sort of understand why a lot of people like this book.