Grounded--Seth Stevenson

Grounded is a travel book with an interesting premise--let's travel around the world completely by surface transportation, a la Around the World in 80 Days.  The premise is compelling enough to make the otherwise somewhat slack reading possible.  Seth and his girlfriend Rebecca set out from Washington D.C. and travel to Philadelphia--there to embark on a cargo carrying boat, destination Antwerp.  And so it goes. Antwerp, Rostock, Helisinki, Talinn, Moscow, Vladivostok, and so forth.

The cities visited are just barely visited.  The whole notion here is motion.  The couple often arrive at a given location with just a few hours to get on the next leg of the transportation.  Where there is a lag, we often learn little of the surroundings.  Each leg of the journey is accompanied by reflections on contextual reading that the author is doing along the way.

On the whole, this made for an interesting travel book.  I must say that the antics of the lead couple make me wonder how profoundly the image of the Ugly American was reinforced by this journey.  I found their company to be just a bit repetitive after the wine, vodka, whiskey, and whatever else it was they were using to while away what seemed like every evening.  I guess I would have found travel with them difficult in person.  Fortunately, I need only share the distilled results.

Recommended ***1/2

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