Following the manic, exciting and fast-paced biography that was 'A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius' I have finally just read Dave Eggers' second novel – 'They Shall Know Our Velocity'. Discovering Eggers' by accident, the best way to discover any author, his first novel was an electric retelling of his own life after his both his parents' died of cancer. Dave Eggers' was left to bring up his eight-year-old brother while he was only twenty-one. And yet with all this tragedy, death and upset the book is a perfectly humourous and well-written, albeit highly self-critical, work.
'They Shall Know our Velocity' surrounds death, and mourning again. As two friends, Will and Hand, mourn the loss of their childhood friend the decision is made to take in a one-week world tour to give away the money that their friend left to Will. Choosing destinations randomly the pair dispense as much of the $32,000 as fast as they can to people who need it.
Surrounding the death of their friend, Will relives many childhood memories as they travel, and imagines conversations with both of his friends. Trying to come to terms with the loss of someone so close both characters push the boundaries of their own physical existence and mental strengths. The novel follows Will as he tries to find answers and a new noise to fill the hole that was left after his friend died, travelling the globe in a week to find inspiration. Or intervention.
Death, humour and pain mangle themselves together to create a well of mixing emotions in the book – both characters are well developed while simultaneously being malnourished and indeterminable. Dave Eggers has a narrative style that is highly original and ledgible while being very recognisable, descriptive and highly charged. He also possesses' that very rough cool that surrounds the gen-x generation – a witty, dry and energetic humour that can engage almost anyone. He uses the energy of his experience, and of that decade, to create a strong and unique voice. Somber, brilliant and impossible, 'You Shall Know Our Velocity' is a triumph for the voice of a time I wish I had been part of.
LINK: Unphotographable.com – for those pictures that you wish you had a camera for.