I have been a fan of McSweeney’s Quarterly for a very long time. I have also been a regular lurker on their website. It’s quirky. I like quirky.

The founder of McSweeney’s is Dave Eggers, who I’d love to sing about right now, but it would eat up this entire post, make your ears bleed, and leave no room for the upcoming book review (and there is one) so I shall instead suggest this Wikipedia link where he’s been wiki’d.

You Shall Know Our Velocity was written by Eggers and is published in hardcover by McSweeney’s. The book tells the story of Will who has acquired a large amount of cash from posing for light bulb packaging. Due to his inner turmoil caused by the death of a best friend, he decides to travel the world to give away his light bulb earnings – in only 7 day’s time. His surviving best friend comes along to help him, but it seems that nothing goes according to plan. They find themselves changing their plans on the fly, landing them in unpredictable situations. Giving away money is a tricky business that seems to involve things like perfect timing, staying up all night, packing tape, and finding the perfect donkey.

From Senegal to Latvia, (forget Greenland – they have wind issues) Will and his friend Hand spend time searching for the best ways to unload the cash, all the while working through the death of their friend. No postcard destinations for this book. Instead it takes readers to back streets, seedy bars, narrow alleys, and mountains in total darkness of night. I swear I was getting jet lag. My backpack was calling me, hoping to get its own dose of international hullabaloo. The book itself was printed in Iceland which makes me ponder if McSweeney’s intention was to add another uncommon destination to the list.

You Shall Know Our Velocity also contained just the type of humor I was hoping to get from Dave Eggers. He throws in lots of bumps in the ride and unexpected visuals, not to mention starting the book’s contents smack on the front cover. If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary literary spin around the globe, then grab your backpack and a spare t-shirt. The donkeys are waiting.

6 Comments

  1. This looks really good! I was equal parts in love with and underwhelmed by A Heartbreaking Work, and have heard unimpressed things about What is the What, but I’m totally willing to give Eggers another shot.

  2. I’ve always been intrigued and amused by the unconventional book covers McSweeny’s comes up with; but I never thought of one printing the text of the first chapter on the cover! How funny. Where is the title, then?

  3. This book was released some time ago. Is this a new hardcover edition???

  4. Raych, let me know if you give it a try. It’s a fun book!

    Jeane, the title is on the spine of the book, that’s it. Not even a title page! You should see it – you open the book, and page two is right there looking at you from the other side of the cover.

    Jacob, the book was published by McSweeney’s in 2003. I don’t think I’ve done a review before of a book that’s been out awhile, but I just couldn’t resist. This was just too much my style to pass it up. Did you read it before? I’d love to know what you thought.

  5. Actually, I really thought I would like this book, but I didn’t. I travel a lot and have had so many strange adventures and met so many fascinating people and I just felt like this could have been so much more vibrant. Quite a letdown.

  6. It is nice to see a review of an older book, sometimes certain titles don’t get the publicity that they deserve. I have not read it, yet. It is on my never ending list; although I have read Heartbreaking… and will be tackling What Is the What soon. Eggers is the man, as a writer and publisher!