59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2012
Actor/director Andrew McCarthy may be universally acknowledged as a member of the Brat Pack for roles in such films as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo's Fire, but it's his second, less mainstream career as a travel writer that takes the helm of his new memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down. At the book's beginning Andrew and his fiancé, affectionately referred to as D, have finally embarked on the decision to marry after years of courtship. For the solitary, commitment-claustrophobic Andrew this is the sort of gigantic leap that requires a great deal of confidence, and perhaps an even greater deal of anticipatory panic. Having used travel all his life as a means to escape into an anonymous sort of blissful freedom, he embarks on and recounts several journeys that ultimately lead him to his biggest confrontation: his wedding day.
While he occasionally features an anecdote or two from his movie star days - the Brat Pack, he reveals, was never as close-knit of a group as society perpetuated - it's his life as a traveler that takes the spotlight in his memoir. A single comrade on one of his voyages expresses that Andrew's face looks familiar, but otherwise there's no Hollywood glamour to be had, and the book is all the more enriched by its absence. What results is something much more human, much more relatable: the story of a man with fears and the woman, the family, and the destinations who push him out of his comfort zone and into his ultimate happiness. His reflections on his own struggles in life - from the grasping anxiety of turbulence on a plane to the more philosophical issues he's loathe to confront - make for an especially engaging commentary, and result in an emotional evolution that leaves the reader self-aware and inspired. I could genuinely feel his determination grow throughout the book, his understanding of himself becoming more and more vivid. It was truly a journey of personal growth.
Andrew's travels in The Longest Way Home take him from New York to Patagonia, the Amazon, Costa Rica, Vienna, Baltimore, Kilimanjaro, and finally to Dublin where his wedding day lingers in wait. A very prominent focus in his thoughts as he travels (usually alone) to each destination is his fiancé, the fiery and spontaneous D. In writing about her Andrew paints a picture of warmth and wit, introducing the reader to her quite personally - a charming endeavor that makes the documentation of their wedding day all the lovelier. Throughout the book it's as if he's explaining to the reader, "This is why I had to go out there and find my courage: I *have* to marry this woman." And in his efforts the reader cheers him on while experiencing beautifully written glimpses into the tremendous wonders of the world - from the vastness of Patagonia to the strength of Kilimanjaro - and coming to understand just what it is about traveling that can actually change a man for the better, and finally make him long to come home. A very entertaining, modestly celebratory, and deeply personal book for the traveler in all of us.
(Review © Casee Marie, originally published on September 18, 2012 at LiteraryInklings.com. I received a copy of the book for the purpose of review.)
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
The longest way home is fantastic! It is a thought providing work with wonderful travel segments interwoven with Andrew McCarthys internal struggle and life journey. There are many times that one can identify with McCarthy while he travels on his deply personal journey. I found the book to be very moving and inspiring without being remotely self indulgent. The sense of remove and isolation that McCarthy portrays diminishes over the course of his journey with a fitting conclusion on Kilimanjaro. The warmth and love that emanates from a family trip to Vienna reaches out to the reader and covers you like a warm blanket. Patagonia, the amazon, the OSA etc have all come alive for me having read this book. The personal and travel are beautifully enmeshed and of course the recurring theme of journey excites the reader as you want the writer to succeed in his quest for commitment and happiness.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2012
Everyone remembers Andrew McCarthy, right? THE 80′s heartthrob we all got to know from such movies as Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire and one of the silliest, yet most entertaining movies ever...Mannequin.
I've always like his work. He has an easy way about him and a likable face. What I didn't know, is that in addition to acting and directing, he's also added travel writer to his list of accomplishments. As an editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler, You'd think I would have noticed his writing since I've read the magazine for years, but maybe I just didn't realize it was the same guy. Needless to say, when this book came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it.
McCarthy's inability to commit to his long time partner, known as "D" in the book is what sends him into a tailspin. The wedding date has been set, but the details as far as when & where cause him anxiety that can only be controlled by hitting the road. So, that is what he does. He climbs Kilimanjaro, spends some time in Costa Rica, Patagonia and Spain and all the while, D is waiting at home, touching base with him when she can.
As much as I adore McCarthy, I was frustrated with his tendency to flee every time decisions needed to be made. It's a classic case of cold feet but the book promises a "quest" and to me, that means that at some point, you put the hiking boots away and come back as a complete person. I'm not sure that happened here. He does a lot of soul-searching, but I don't feel that he understood himself any better at the end of this adventure, than he did at the beginning.
As for the adventure, McCarthy is kind of a loner so there aren't too many meaningful interactions with the people he encounters. It's mostly him, and what he was thinking at the time. The armchair traveler in me wanted more description, more humor and some meaningful moments so when those were few and far between, I'd gaze at the cover and then watch Pretty in Pink.
As a Brat Pack fan, my favorite parts of the book had to do with his movie career and how he came to play such iconic roles. These parts are interspersed throughout the book and then of course he touches on alcoholism and how it nearly got the best of him. Even here though, he only skims the surface.
Overall, I'd have to say that if his intent was to dig deep, he wasn't successful. He only took things so far, and then just sort of gave in to them. BUT, for some reason, I still enjoyed the book. It was refreshing for a man to discuss his weakness and I appreciated the honesty in his writing.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2012
I bought this book on a whim after seeing Andrew McCarthy on the Today Show. I hadn't seen him since the 1980s and had no idea that he had taken up as a writer. But regardless, I find him totally charming, and once I saw his smile on screen, I immediately picked up my Kindle. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much more from his book than a way to pass the time during a 4-hour train ride later that day. To my surprise, I am completely engrossed in his stories, moved by them, and even connecting to them on so many levels. Whether it is the world traveler in me who relates to his tale, or the thirtysomething New Yorker who is at a crossroads, it doesn't really matter. By the end, I was rooting for him, for D, and for myself. Any fan of travel writing or memoirs, and anyone who has ever been lost, literally or figuratively, should not be disappointed here.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2012
I really, really disliked this book from so many points of view. In fact, it made me downright angry. Andrew McCarthy has divorced his first wife, and his son is being shuffled back and forth between households, constantly sad and unhappy, and Andrew McCarthy cannot understand why, despite his lack of reliable presence in his child's life. Meanwhile, his current partner/fiancee, who is the mother of his daughter, is "jealous" of his ability to get away: yes, get away from life's responsibilities of caring for the ones you love and being present for them, while meanwhile she is stuck taking over those chores and responsibilities from which he flees, on a near-constant basis. Oh, but he misses her and she misses him soooo much... yet he continues to flee-and-return, flee-and-return; and she continues to put up with it. (She is convinced by him that he must get this travel out of his system before he can fully commit to marriage, and I guess she will do whatever it takes). While Mr. McCarthy does get to go to some very amazing and exotic places, his descriptions are pretentious and maudlin or worse, downright boring. I don't get a feel for the places he visits, since it seems that the only thing the author wishes the reader to know his how Mr. McCarthy is feeling at any given moment (hint: conquering fear and being alone are the two biggies, ad nauseum). The end result is a man who refuses to grow up, but not in a whimsical sort of way; rather he is narcissistic and patronizing and oh, so completely selfish. To his long-suffering and ever-accommodating now-spouse, I would hope the next time Mr. McCarthy feels "trapped" by real life, she will kiss him goodbye and then run far, far away. She deserves better. And the readers deserve better than to subsidize his tiresome whining and travels. Sheesh!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
I bought this book with escape in mind and it did not disappoint. With Andrew McCarthy as my guide, I went on a journey to the "ends of the earth" and back. Clinging to the mountain side or bumping along a deserted African road, the images were crisp and vivid. Not just a lushly recounted travel memoir but also an affecting love story. Beautiful and touching. A great read from an iconic actor and writer.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2013
Just plain boring. A book I put down and never picked up again. I simply could not relate, and didn't care about the protaganist, and I have trouble imagining how anybody else would. Writing was decent, but that ain't enough, at least for me. Sorry.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2013
Maybe I just don't get it, but this book rarely held my attention. While it did provide some interesting details of the author's early life and some of the descriptions of his adventures were interesting, this book just never led me to a point where I wanted more. After a month of trying.. always sure the interesting parts were just ahead, I've given up trying to finish this, a little more than halfway through. The author drones on and on about his travels in a bored and almost monotone style that makes you think he is even less interested in reading this aloud than you are to listen. It's like taking a car ride with someone who endlessly rambles on about themselves, but they aren't the least bit interesting... EXCEPT, this time I was able to stop the conversation. Save your money.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
The author is an excellent writer, bringing the magic of exotic places to the reader. However, all I got from this book was the author's need to distance himself from the life that required day to day attention to responsibilities and commitments. For this, I got angry with the author. The travel was an excuse to get away from responsibilities that he, himself created and, in fact, pursued. When life in New York overwhelmed him he left in the night without good byes because these were difficult. What? I thought travel was his job???? Instead I found myself wondering about D. I wondered why she stayed through these episodes of 'self-reflection down the Amazon.' My heart broke for her when I read passages of D's details for planning a wedding while the author took the reader inside his head and showed us how he processed the information into finding a way to distance himself from her. As he writes in the beginning, he will never be able to take care of D. I am afraid I have to agree. If the author thought that he was putting only his emotional/ psychological self out for the world to read about, he was wrong. He made D more vulnerable to pity from the readers. The 'happy ending' is difficult to accept.
Did I miss the point of this book? Probably I did. While the travel aspect was spectacular and the reason I bought the book, I could not get past the author's willingness to self-search at the expense of the personal relationships he left at home.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
McCarthy is, in my opinion, a horrible writer. He jumps from one scene to another with little connection and fails to give adequate description to scenes or people. There is no character development beyond his own, and maybe "D" who never gets a name, kind of like a Dostoevsky novel. I found the book disjointed, and found the chapters disjointed, and even the paragraphs disjointed. He dwells on problems like lack of cheese on pizza and a bad microphone at a church in Costa Rica without describing the scene which would have been exotic and interesting to the average foreign traveler. But not McCarthy. Maybe this is his pathetic attempt at humor. And then he loves describing the woman he meets, how beautiful they are, and how they hit on him. Andrew thinks of himself as a loner, a stud, a James Deanesque brooder who believes traveling will open him up to love and feelings. Maybe it does to some extent. But that doesn't make a writer or a book.
This is not a travel book. It's about McCarthy and his inability to stop thinking about himself. We hear about his lonely childhood, his distant father and uncles, his moving to a new location and all this seems important to him somehow, but it isn't very interesting reading. Then, in the last chapter, we get to read all about how he has to scramble to get all the documents necessary for his wedding at the last minute and get his son with a broken arm to Ireland for the wedding. Who cares? If he was attempting humor, ala a Bill Bryson travel book, it failed. You can't mix bleeding heart whinning about your sad lonely life and then throw in badly written attempt at humor.
The book might qualify as a basis for a daytime soap opera or a bad movie, but I'll skip those.