You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World

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9781594860379: You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World

Globalization is really about people, about what happens when your culture shows up in my living room or when my way of life is tossed into your lap. It's the Somali restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. . . . It is challenging identities, creating new art forms, igniting new obsessions, and uniting long-lost families. Creation, destruction, reinvention. Things are getting very interesting.-from the Introduction.

For journalist Gayle Forman, the world is a strange and wonderful place. So when her husband suggested an extended round-the-globe adventure, she agreed as long as they stayed way off the beaten path. Forman, who had always considered herself an outsider, hoped to discover an affinity with those living on the margins in some of the most exotic spots on earth.

But a funny thing happened on her way to the fringe. She started to notice that the tentacles of globalization were changing everything, not only for people in the mainstream but for those on the edges, too. In You Can't Get There from Here, Forman invites us on a whirlwind ride to the mountain hideaways of Kazakhstan's Tolkien fanatics and inside the townships of South Africa's lost tribe of Israel. She introduces us to a wild assortment of characters: lovelorn Tongan transvestites, charismatic Tanzanian rap stars, precocious Cambodian street kids, out-of-work Dutch prostitutes. In the artful interplay of these eight lively, thoughtful, interwoven stories, she reveals how all of these diverse lives-as well as our own-are being inextricably altered by the ever-shrinking world that we all share. Because, she writes, "To forget the humanity in others is to risk forgetting one's own."

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About the Author:

Gayle Forman is an investigative journalist who's traveled the world to report for such publications as the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Glamour, Elle, Details, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, Jane, and Seventeen. She took her first overseas jaunt when she was seven-she brought her parents with her that time-and has been traveling ever since. Gayle and her husband, Nick Tucker, are back at home (for now) in New York City with their baby daughter, Willa.

Review:

“Award-winning journalist Forman is a world traveler married to Nick, a librarian struck by wanderlust. When Nick suggests a year of travel, Forman agrees, with some trepidation and conditions: they start at the beach, maintain their separate space, and spend long periods in one place. This is forman's story of their fascinating adventure: searching for Tolkienists in Kazakhstan; learning about the Lemba, the Jewish population in Africa; and exploring the subculture of the cross-dressing fakaleiti in Tonga. Throughout, Forman seeks out connections with those on the fringes of society, reveling in the relationships she is able to forge. Her husband, conversely, enjoys days in the bar and prefers North American society, causing some friction. Traveling together and separately, they fight and make up, learn how to deal with the new tensions this trip brings, and eventually return to New York City closer than before. All of this is packages in a personal, engrossing description of a year of adventure and education. Recommended for larger public libraries.” ―Library Journal

“Gayle Forman is the kind of person you wish would sit next to you on an airplane: She knows how to tell a story, and more important, she knows how to listen. I love You Can't Get There from Here.” ―Erik Torkells, Budget Travel

“This compulsively readable (self-professed) Weird Girl's round-the-shrinking-world travelogue is jam-packed with trenchant observations, drama, pathos, and humor. In countries as far-flung as Tonga and Kazakhstan, she befriends fellow outsiders: island shemales, mountain medievalists, street urchins, Bollywood extras, a tribe of African Jews, enterprising prostitutes. Although the world is shrinking, it's clearly still filled with wonders, and wherever Gayle Forman is going next, I want to read about it.” ―Kate Christensen, author of In the Drink and The Epicure's Lament

“Gayle Forman has swallowed the world, whole, and come back to tell this often witty, sometimes poignant, always interesting tale.” ―Deborah Copaken Kogan, author of Shutterbabe

“It's clear from Forman's travelogue that globalization isn't just about Starbucks' spreading from Boulder to Bangkok. It's also about the unexpected subcultures that form when worlds collide: Tanzanians who rap like Vanilla Ice, Tongan transvestites who take their cues from the Miss America pageant, an Anglo family in India competing for spots in Bollywood films. While Forman, a self-proclaimed "weird girl," discovers a common bond among outcasts worldwide, she also finds that her relationship with her globe-hopping companion--husband Nick--is falling apart. This is travel through a secret side door; lucky us, we get to go along.” ―Lorraie Ali

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Forman, Gayle
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