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24.8.05

'You Shall Know Our Velocity' - Dave Eggers

Starting in America and ending Mexico, this book covers a lot of ground. It's a breathless tour around the world in the company of two truly American travellers who look at the world from the view point of people who rarely leave their own state, let alone their own continent. Don't let this deter you. These characters are well sculpted, dislikable and cruel and at the same time refreshingly and even lovably niave and thrill seeking.
This book is fast paced and slightly psychotic in the way it leaps between the journey they are taking and the mental torture of Will (one of the two main protagonists.) We learn as much about what has happened in the past as about what is going on in the present as the story unfolds. This is one of the strengths of this work - It doesn't dwell for long on any given point or moral before skipping somewhere else - if not to the past then to the inside of Will's head.
Will is troubled, guilt ridden and grieving for his friend and his internal monologues and conversations punctuate the actual dialogue of the book to great effect. Eggers portrays him in enough pain to elicit sympathy, but with enough humour to prevent the book becoming weighed down.
Will is looking for something he knows he isn't going to find, and ultimately this is a book about a hopeless quest. It is as much about tiring yourself out to escape the tortures of your mind as it is anything spiritual. Their is just enough lust for life in the two main characters to allow the actual journey to be more important and more satisfying than the reasons for it. In some ways Will and his companion 'Hand' appear much like crazy characters from a film, pulling stupid stunts and adopting a kind of deliberate ignorance of the world arround them, losing themselves in homespun (but often charming) explanations of events. In other ways, they have enough depth, enough genuine pain and convincing feeling for each other and the world they interact with to overcome this potential flaw.

I'm not entirely sure what this book was about, I do know I really enjoyed it and was rivited by the many diferent stories and settings - which seems such an un-intelectual thing to say but sums up how I felt quite nicely.

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