Title: The Longest Way Home
Author: Andrew McCarthy
Review: I began this book expecting an autobiography told through travel. Instead you get 9 parts travel to 1 part life story; and the life story you get focuses on his fear of commitment to those who are significant in his life. If he cannot be definitive about his family, just how committed do you think he is to his vicarious travel companions?
The beauty of great travel writing is the excitement the writer brings to the parts of the world they are visiting. Ian Wright is my idea of the perfect travel host. The reader becomes a travel companion, forging a relationship with the writer to see what they see, to experience what they experience. McCarthy makes it abundantly clear he is a loner when it comes to travel, directly avoiding interaction with those who are present, and indirectly shunning you the reader. It is really hard to be a companion to a travel writer who does not want you there interrupting his experience.
The thread of the book is McCarthy’s journey as a commitment-phobe as he rapidly travels around the globe seeking answers prior to getting married for the second time. Mostly you just want to shout at him to get over himself, but that would be an ungenerous reading of his struggles. His life is very different from mine and through his travels he is able to process his thoughts, cumulating in his marriage, both physically and mentally. The loner becomes two.
Most interesting to me is this exploration of McCarthy’s second act. A movie actor since he was a teenager, he managed to find something in life he was passionate about and through dogged determination he has managed to create a small career in travel writing. Much more than a vanity project, McCarthy has found a new life in which to express himself. The artist within will always find its way out. As they say, do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.
Publisher: Free Press
Quick Review: 3.5 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: I enjoy a well written piece of nonfiction, especially history or biography
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review
Synopsis: Award-winning travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy delivers a revealing and insightful memoir about how travel helped him become the man he wanted to be, helping him overcome life-long fears and confront his resistance to commitment.From time immemorial, travel has been a pursuit of passion—from adventurers of old seeking gold or new lands, to today’s spiritual and pleasure seekers who follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Gilbert. Some see travel as a form of light-hearted escapism while others believe it has the power to open your mind, forcing you to confront your demons, and discover your true self. Andrew McCarthy belongs to this second category of traveler. The Longest Way Home follows his excursions to Patagonia, the Amazon, Costa Rica, Baltimore, Vienna, Kilimanjaro, Dublin, and beyond. He uses his wanderlust to examine his motives and desires, and explore his ambivalence about commitment. He ponders his personal life, his acting career, and his impulse to leave home, all building toward one of the most significant moments of his life: his wedding day. Genuine and spirited, McCarthy’s message about the transformative power of travel is universal, and his exploration of the nature and passion of relationships, both fleeting and enduring, will strike a chord with every man and woman who has ever wondered at the vicissitudes of the human heart.