Published: 2010; pages: 304
For her part, Rebecca's been most intrigued to learn that in Mandarin there is no easy way to say "no". It's just not in the language. To express a negative, you can use the word bu - the equivalent of "not" - coupled with the appropriate verb. So if someone inquiries as to whether its raining outside, you could answer, "Not is." Or if someone asks you if you want to go out to a movie, you could say, "Not want." Which, I would argue, sounds much harsher than an unadorned no.
Rebecca, in her endearing way, instantly cottons to this harshness. For a full afternoon, she adopts "not x" as her exclusive means of communicating with me. Rebecca, what time is it? "Not know." Rebecca, do you have the subway map with you? "Not have." Rebecca, this is sort of wearing on me. "Not care!"
I have a not-so-secret secret. Are you ready? I would kill to travel. Really. I’m always insanely jealous whenever anyone leaves the country, and then hang on every word they deem to share. I was pathetically excited to go on a plane to Melbourne. My yen to travel is, in fact, so severe it crosses over into the realm of stereotype (I have the whole map and pins on the wall). Because of this, I have a hidden passion for travel literature. I came across Seth Stevenson’s Grounded while browsing in my local bookstore and my armchair adventure yearning came to the forefront and I had to get it.
Journalist Seth Stevenson and his lawyer partner, Rebecca, have become complacent in their lives. They’ve hit a rut, and this realisation comes at quite the shock to the former free spirits. They decide that adventure and travel is the answer to all their problems as so, casting off all the trappings of their lives, they each back a single backpack and set off to see the world.
But what makes Seth and Rebecca different than any other globetrotter? Well, they have a special goal in mind: to circumnavigate the world entirely by use of ground travel. That’s right, they will cross every line of latitude without the aid of planes. Boats, trains, cars, even bikes – that will be the way for them.
I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Grounded. Stevenson’s journalistic style is fresh, informative, and just cheeky enough. The relationship between he and Rebecca is faithfully and entertainingly shared, and the personalised knowledge he brings about his locations is charming. It will make you want to travel, and it will make you reconsider the beauty of more traditional transport. Highly recommended for the traveller (armchair or otherwise) in everyone. 5/5