26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Hackneyed. A window into a shallow, shallow couple's travels.,
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This review is from: Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World (Paperback)
Seth Stevenson and his wife Rebecca are horrendous travellers.
This may seem like a stern judgment, but when you write an entire hackneyed, vapid book about your empty sneering travels, around the globe without an airplane (gasp!) -- you pretty much write about yourself, and invite judgment, or about people, culture, art, conversation, the world, and invite wonder.
He made the wrong choice. One gets the sense, reading this book, that the author and his wife have exactly zero ability to engage in or record interesting conversations with people they meet. They do not elicit interaction. They chunk down their world tour in great bites of sitting in trains and ferries. They never move much beyond the quotidian, drinking with various other travelers. They offer no insights, no percipient commentary on the world.
On this journey, the star couple are bruited about like a couple of suitcases, moved along the longitudes of the world higgledy-piggledy. You get the sense that the author NEVER has an interesting conversation to offer fellow travelers, that he is sort of taciturn. You get an NPR sense of sneering self-satisfaction.
At one point he is proud to be mistaken for a native German, and to have avoided white socks and shorts, being seen as a north american. Yet he is oblivious to the fact that he cannot speak the language, and that his worldliness is a matter of dressing himself in the right costume.
At one point, he notes that there sure are a lot of containers moving on the container ships of the world.
At one point, in order to keep his lame "no airplanes" rule, he leaves his wife behind and forces her to take an airplane to catch up. Charming, IF you admire the goal and the man. Lame, and totally self-centered, if you find his trip less than compelling.
The author fails the key question asked of all travel writers: OK, you went there. So what?
He can be funny, in a sarky way, but he is never percipient, never engaged, lacks an eye for the key detail, the crucial dialogue. He is a boar and a bore, in an approved east-coast insular fashion. You would not want to travel with him, and nor do you want to read about his self-involved travels.
Read this? Hah!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 24, 2010 9:40:13 AM PST
J. T. Brockbank says:
I personally don't expect my English-speaking American traveler protagonists to engage in may thoughtful foreign language conversations.
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