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Book: You Shall Know Our Velocity

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I finished reading Dave Egger's You Shall Know Our Velocity a couple weeks back and I've finally taken the time to finish my post on it. I really liked AHBWOSG, partly because of the familiarity of the Bay Area it describes, and mostly because of his fast-paced, kinetic rants that have the ability to pull you through ten pages in ten seconds, all the while you're holding the book tighter and tighter and closer to your face, completely caught up in the flow.

While YSKOV is also full of the expected kinetic sections, what I enjoyed most about it was the way that Egger's plays with our expectations and interpretations throughout the story. He's willing to experiment with the format and concept of the book and derives great value from it. Take the first sentence for example: "Everything takes place after Jack died and before my mom and I drowned in a burning ferry in the cool tannin-tinted guaviare river, in east-central Colombia, with forty-two locals we hadn't yet met."

He also throws in plenty of dialogues, monologues, and themes that I found hilarious, some of which I have managed to transcribe below.

pg. 12
I wasn't about to call two eight-year-olds, hyper kids who talked a lot, who like to run ahead on the sidewalks and didn't mind being thrown around, goddamned Persephone and Penelope.

People say I talk slowly. I talk in a way sometimes called laconic. The phone rings, I answer, and people ask if they've woken me up. I lose my way in the middle of sentences, leaving people hanging for minutes. I have no control over it. I'll be talking, and will be interested in what I'm saying, but then someone -- I'm convinced this is what happens -- someone -- and I wish I know who, because I would have words for this person -- for a short time, borrows my head. Like a battery is borrowed from a calculator to power a remote control, someone, always , is borrowing my head.

pg. 27
--You on the motorcycle
--It's only a matter of time
--I know

pg 37
"I'm docking my starfighter!"

pg. 67
"So this teleporting was based on a Cold War mentality. This was the American foreign policy model then. This was based on the American strength, the American ability to move and change the worlds they touched onto."

pg. 106
kinetic description of rock-running

pg. 120
on quantum-physics-related multiverses: "The thing is, it's basically immortality for atheists"

pg. 268
Mark Twain quote: "To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art."

Misc notes:
The allegory of humanitarian aid, the problem of determining who is "worthy" in our eyes of this aid, disgust/derision at those who dare ask or demand that aid, the need to barter the aid (i.e. instead of giving out the aid directly, ask the person for directions so that they have earned it), the fear that the aid will get stolen by another (e.g. Somalia).

Another theme: the need to keep moving, not allowing our minds time to catch up, to wander. The desire to teleport between places (infinite movement): Star Trek teleporter, quantum mechanics.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on October 1, 2003 9:47 AM.

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