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Sacrament by Dave Eggers
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Sacrament

by Dave Eggers

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I had some problems with this book. I certainly did not come away with the impression that Eggers is a good writer. I will make a big delineation here between good writing and funny writing. Most people mistake one for the other because being funny is not easy, but being funny, quirky, or otherwise hipsterish doesn't make you good at what you do. Doesn't make you bad either, but the likelihood increases simply at the effort to be popular.

Eggers' narrative is swift and humorous, but not cutting, inviting, insightful, or even all that interesting. And all that is aside from his inability to tell an interesting story.

My major problem was with the voice of the character. Will is supposed to be an idiot. If not an idiot then painfully common, yet he comes up with these poetic musings and these colorations that simply would not run through the mind of such a common character.

Through the whole thing I kept thinking that Eggers was just trying to show us how cute he could be, like that idiot Zooey Deshanal (sp?) who just looks as if she's so impressed with how cute she is. I'm really not down with this kind of loose, plain-speech narrative that passes as great literature nowadays. Everyone talks like this, what is so special about writing it down if the character doesn't have anything special about them? What exactly is there to read about here?

The conflict was loose, the characters unremarkable, the voice funny at times but mostly square and depressing, and the story ... what story? The only thing I wanted to was how he died (This is on the first page, no spoiler here) and Eggers didn't even get to it. Fucking lame, man.

I do not recommend this book. It'll be a while before Eggers gets another 20 dollar bill out of me. I'm just not into Hipster-Lit. If you are, great, but lets not go handing out Pulitzers over it.

( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
Well, this is what happens when I go on vacation and stay at a place with no TV - I attempt to read the Dave Eggers book I find on the shelves at the house, knowing I won't like it, and I don't. Just fwiw, I don't like McSweeney's either, and all that that entails. I don't like the whole approach, the jokey-ness poorly masking maudlin sentimentality, the insane plethora of high-speed detail that overwhelms any larger picture or deeper insight (talk about not seeing the forest for the...), the short-attention-span narrative style, and the callow American white boy psychology that is by now so boringly over-studied I just can't bear it anymore. My bad. I should have brought my own reading with me. Time to visit the local library. ( )
  CSRodgers | Jul 17, 2014 |
The story of two friends who travel to arbitrary places around the world at breakneck speed, in the attempt to give away $80,000 to random people they deem deserving. Eggers is both funny and profound; his style is uniquely his own but a mix of Twain and Joyce comes to mind as I try to put my finger on it.

Quotes:
On innocence:
"It had to be those kids. Only the most blessed of little people yells hello across an empty field to strangers with dirty clothes."

On perspective in traveling:
"I had been on a plane! A tiny percentage of all those who'd ever lived would ever be on an airplane..."

"To travel is selfish - that money could be used for hungry stomachs and you're using it for your hungry eyes..."

"We were done. No Cairo. No sunrise at Cheops. And from now on, there would never be options, never like this again. Lord this was obscene. We should have saved the money, most of it, invested it, so there would always be more. I could have done this every year if I had planned it better. I planned nothing well. I dreaded being back in Chicago, or Memphis, wherever - the stasis, the slow suffocation of accumulation."

On mad beauty:
"Oh to live among peacocks. I'd seen them once in person and they defied so many laws of color and gravity that they had to be mad geniuses waiting to take over everything."

On knowledge:
"That Hand didn't know more about Morocco - that it was green, for starters - demonstrated the great gaps in knowledge that occur when one gets most of one's information from the Internet."

"You know nothing until you're there. Nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. You know nothing of another person, nothing of another place. Nothing nothing nothing."

"We knew nothing; the gaps in our knowledge were random and annoying. They were potholes - they could be patched but they multiplied without pattern or remorse. And even if we knew something, had read something, were almost sure of something, we wouldn't ever know the truth, or come anywhere close to it. The truth had to be seen. Anything else was a story, entertaining but more embroidered fib than crude, shapeless fact."

"Anyway, I read news and look for and collect facts because so far they haven't added up anything. I had pictured, as a younger man, that the things I knew and woiuld know were bricks in something that woiuld, effortlessly, eventually, shape itself into something recognizable, meaningful. A massive and spiritual sort of geometry - a ziggurat, a pyramid. But here I am now, so many years on, and if there is a shape to all this, it hasn't revealed itself. But no, thus far the things I know grow out, not up, and what might connect all these things, connective tissues or synapses, or just some sense of order, doesn't exist, or isn't functioning, and what I knew at twenty-seven can't be found now."

On the human condition:
"The only infallible truth of our lives is that everything we love in life will be taken from us."

"We had beaten death yet again and we were now beating sleep and it would seem like we could do without either forever. And I then would have the idea, seeming gloriously true for a flickering moment, that we all should have a near-death experience weekly, twice weekly - how much we'd get done! The clarity we'd know!"

"When we pass by another person without telling them we love them it's cruel and wrong and we all know this. We live in a constant state of denial and imbalance."

"The water was not God. The water undulating slightly with the waves unformed was not spiritual. It was jagged cold water, and it felt perfect when we put our hand into it, and it kissed our palms again and again, would never stop kissing our palms - and why wasn't that enough?"

Just funny:
"I could smell me. Not a bad smell, not yet, but a distinct one, one with something to say."

"Hand burst from the bathroom like he'd been feeding bears and they'd turned on him. His own stink had overtaken him and now threw itself around the room."

"This was the day Hand announced, while eating fries and mayonnaise for lunch, that in his opinion, a great shit was better than bad sex, a view that was seconded by my mom, which just about killed Jack."

"Passing a middle-aged couple in matching jackets:
- You two need to change.
- What? Why? the middle-aged couple said, to my head, in my head.
- Because you are wearing the same jacket.
- We brought them while on vacation in Newport.
- You must be hidden from view.
- The jackets are nice.
- They are not nice. Think of the children."

"All of Senegal and beyond attainable, Senegal! - and with Huey Lewis on the local radio, coming through with stunning clarity: 'Do You Believe in Love?'
....
Janet Jackson was tinkling from the speakers, asking what we had done for her as of late."

"I could smell his breath, worlds contained within."

"In the center of the city center, in the dead-middle of all Dakar's traffic, the car died. Hand jumped into the driver's seat to start it. Nothing. The honking was first insane and soon symphonic." ( )
1 vote gbill | Apr 20, 2014 |
Really well written book that sticks with you long after you've put it down. Not a lot happens in the book as our protagonist tries to give away a large sum of money in places throughout the world to alleviate his guilt. But the prose and imagery make the book worth reading. This book made me an Eggers fan. Recommend if you are looking for a literary (and weighty) read. ( )
  AprilAasheim | Jul 7, 2013 |
I really enjoyed Eggers writing style, the flow of the story, and the characters. However, I was left unsatisfied as I strolled through the last pages of the book. I'm not sure what I was wanting, but whatever it was, it was not what he gave me.

The struggle of WAITING when all you really needed was to move is a part of the book that I felt deeply connected with. They had to hustle, they didn't have the capacity to plan, and had to reconcile this with their urgency for movement and purpose. It was a little bit of a paradox that I felt was unresolved by the end of the book, and would have made the book quite powerful if it had been. Eggers writing was beautiful, however, and I would like to read his first book/memoir. ( )
1 vote DanaMDavies | Mar 31, 2013 |
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"Sacrament" is a revised and expanded version (i.e., a significantly different version)  of "You Shall Know Our Velocity". The Vintage edition of this revision was given the title "You Shall Know Our Velocity!" - Note the added explanation point at the end.
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After acquiring $32,000, Will and Hand, devastated over the death of their closest friend, travel around the world giving away the money, in a rowdy debut novel from the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

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