I got yer hearbreaking work of staggering genius right here.
I had mixed but mostly pleasant feelings about Eggers after reading his memoir, and have heard mixed but mostly negative things about What is the What. You Shall Know Our Velocity began effing with me even before I opened the thing. I read the McSweeney’s hardcover (which is, apparently, different from the paperback) and the narrative begins ON THE FRONT COVER! (click picture to embiggen and to have mind blown) Which I didn’t notice at first, but I did notice that it continues immediately inside, where one usually finds the inside flap. The hell? Where are my introductory blank pages? Where is all the publishing information and shit? I need to flip some things without actually looking at them before the story starts, to kind of ease me into things.
So, Will has received a wad of cash as a result of being featured on a lightbulb box. Together with his friend Hand, he heads off to fly around the world and dispense with the money. Fun, right? Giving huge chunks of change to orphan children and hard-working peasants? But how do you…and who do you…and they only have a week and do you have any clue how hard it is to arrange a week around the world when planes fly so slow and all these countries want visas and you’re just these twenty-something disorganized guys? Will and Hand keep trying to be mysterious benefactors, but inevitably fall back into the mold of frat-boy backpackers and you kind of can’t blame them. I mean, loads of money! But then, all these good deeds! But then, this beautiful beach and these lovely foreign women! But then, dirty, scrabbly children!
And then in the back of your mind, you’re still coming to terms with the death of your other best friend and in some way this whole trip is a rapidly failing attempt to pay some sort of homage…but maybe you aren’t! Maybe there’s some whole other tragedy that you, the writer, are keeping from us, the readers! Because a year or so after YSKOV was published, out came a wee segment allegedly written by Hand which contradicts all kinds of things Will says and changes the whole face of the story. Bizarre, no? Only in this day and age…
YSKOV is great piles of awesome. I totally recommend that you go read it.