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[whitespace] Dave Eggers Book Review

By Traci Vogel


You Shall Know Our Velocity
By Dave Eggers
McSweeney's; 376 pages; $22 cloth


ALTHOUGH, AT THE TIME of this writing, Dave Eggers' new novel was still on a boat somewhere waiting to "clear customs and be processed," enough of it has appeared elsewhere, and Eggers has given enough interviews, to permit wild speculation. The novel, which is titled You Shall Know Our Velocity, sends two good friends on a trip around the world. One of the friends has come into money. The amount of money is more than he knows what to do with, and he is not comfortable keeping it.

The story is not, Eggers says, autobiographical. Whereas in real life Eggers has put much of the money he made off his bestselling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius into a new youth literacy venture in San Francisco called 826 Valencia, in the novel the main character decides to give his money away to whoever catches his fancy as he travels. The situations that result are often hilarious and also often poignant, because the main character's inner conflict about his state of wealth and the immense impact even a modest amount of money has on the life of someone in, say, Senegal, create moral frictions of Catch-22 proportions.

Eggers worked for two years on this novel, which he says is "an eternity." It is being published by his own press, McSweeney's, instead of Vintage, which published Heartbreaking Work, while the next issue of McSweeney's literary magazine (Issue 10) will be published by Vintage. This switcheroo has its basis in monetary matters, just like Egger's new novel, and many other things in the world.


Dave Eggers reads Monday (Oct. 7) at 7:30pm at Kepler's, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. (650.324.4321)


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From the October 3-9, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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