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Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir Paperback – February 7, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 214 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER ONE

Amid the pine tree windbreaks and foamy Pacific shore, Sea Ranch, California, is a wonderful place to be dumped. The wild lilac and ill-tempered sea lions--they’ll distract your attention for at least a few minutes after the woman of your dreams leaves you at the altar. That, and a h ell of a lot of booze.

My younger brother, Kurt, and I arrived early at the only dive bar in town, a place where the bartender would wince if he heard the words “mojito” or “caipirinha.” We gave the bearded keep twenty dollars in advance to keep the drinks flowing. He put a few more beers in the cooler and promised to take special care of the group that would soon gather for the evening. It was going to be a long and interesting night.

The century-old Gualala Hotel greets visitors with white pillars and an Old West porch. Close your eves and imagine the thirsty cowboy tying his horse to the front rail. Open them and see tourists sitting around picnic tables in the dining room devouring family-size bowls of minestrone soup. The hotel’s bar, with its knotty pine and boar-head decor, sits off the main entrance. It had one of those electric beer signs on the wall that morphed scenery from mountain to beach.

Kurt bought me a Budweiser and asked how I was doing. I didn’t open up. I looked at his newly gray hair and thin face and realized I “couldn’t” talk to him.

Growing up, the teenager’s code of conduct prohibited me from associating with a brother two grade levels my junior. To impress my friends, I did everything I could to avoid him. He was happy to do the same. Since then, we saw each other only a handful of days a year. Usually around Christmas. Details of our lives were relayed through our mom. Neither of us took the initiative to do more.

I wanted to talk to Kurt. I needed to talk to Kurt, but I didn’t know how. I felt an awkward paralysis, like a child who can’t relate to his parents. I couldn’t pull out the words. I remembered the days in the backseat of the light blue Ford station wagon. We could talk about anything back then--secret hiding places (always behind the built-in shelves in my room), optimal ways to torture our younger sister, Lisa (pin her down and pretend to spit), or that baseball card game I always seemed to lose; lay Tito Fuentes against the wall and try to knock him over from ten feet away with a Wilbur Wood or a Dusty Baker. Despite the distance between us, Kurt was still the first person I called after I learned, five days prior, my wedding was off.

I’d reached him on my cell phone as I sped up the 405 Freeway from my house in Newport Beach to my fiancee Annie’s small, rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica with the industrial-strength carpet and refrigerator in need of a cleaning. I couldn’t remember the last time I phoned him. Probably to relay some bad news, like the death of our grandfather. We’d grown apart during the last decade. Kurt sold real estate in Seattle while I pursued a political career in Washington, D.C., and California. He sounded surprised to hear my voice. I sensed he knew something must be wrong. I needed him like I’d never needed a brother before.

“What’s up?” he said.

“Not much. Weather’s nice. Played golf the other day. My wedding’s off. Did I mention the weather?”

Silence.

“Serious?”

“Serious. I’m on my way up to Annie’s to get dumped right now. Her brother Gerald just called me to tell me she’s not going to be able to go through with it.”

“Man, I’m sorry,“ he said in a hushed tone. “What the hell happened?”

“Long story. I’ll tell you later.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I have no idea. Everything’s paid for. People have rented cabins for the weekend. Some folks from overseas are already en route. Nightmare.”

“Hmm.”

“I haven’t even been dumped yet and the only thing I can think about are those hundred phone calls I’ll need to make tomorrow.”

“That, um, sucks.”

“I hate to ask you this, but is there any way you could fly down here to give me a hand? I’ll pay for your ticket.”

“No problem.” he said without hesitation. “And you don’t need to pay for anything. I’ll leave you a message on your answering machine with my flight info.”

I talked to my mom briefly after that, telling her the wedding was about to crash. I’d spared her from the rapidly rising list of problems in the previous weeks, though I knew she sensed them. Delays on invitations and unworn wedding rings are red flags to moms.

“You have no choice,“ she tried to console me. “She’s doing you a huge favor by telling you now as opposed to after the wedding. Franz, it’s a blessing. You’ll see that. It might be a while, but eventually you’ll see that.”

I knew my parents would be hugely supportive. They always were. At times, maddeningly so. That didn’t stop me from feeling I’d failed. I knew I couldn’t talk to my father yet without breaking down. I just kept thinking about the photo display shelves in their living room, the ones packed with shots of their wedding in Yuba City four decades before, sister Lisa and Doug’s the previous year, dogs present and past, favorite babysitters, the photo of my great-grandfather during his years in China. There’d be no Sea Ranch shots. And I wondered how long it would take until my mom removed the ones with Annie.


Copyright 2005 by Franz Wisner

From Booklist

Coming soon to a library (and movie screen) near you is this true story of two brothers rediscovering each other and the meaning of life during 24 months of world travel. Jilted by his fiancee mere days before the wedding and demoted at work, Wisner collared his brother, Kurt, a Seattle Realtor, to celebrate his Costa Rican nonhoneymoon. That experience, with the help of a Saab purchase in Sweden, grew into subsequent lengthy trips to Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Sandwiched between the chuckles are letters to their grandmother and short, pointed chapters on best trip advice--for instance, attend a professional soccer match to understand culture--and some good lessons in hustling (bid against yourself, pretend there's a language barrier, among others). Humorous and heartening, it will be fun imagining which Hollywood hunks will star. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312340842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340841
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The last thing I wanted to do was to read about two good-looking straight guys from Orange County, Calif., who traveled the world to bond with each together and with exotic women. I thought I had nothing in common with them; I grew up without a brother and a father plus I read mostly military and political books. The clincher was watching my wife read "Honeymoon" in two nights, often laughing aloud.

Boy was I wrong.

"Honeymoon" took me for a ride, through California politics and business, then to the altar where Franz, the author, got dumped. Instead of becoming a sour puss, he took Kurt, his estranged brother on his non-refundable honeymoon that lasted for two years. Together they reconnected and shared their dispatches to a bunch of envious desk jockeys back home. Their grandmother gave them the ultimate approval--she was the glue.

I get weird responses whenever I recommend this book to my male buddies, especially Marines. But I'll continue to do so because it's funny, it's personal and it's adventurous. Live a little. Life is short. Never look back. Look for the movie and a sequel in the near future.
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Format: Hardcover
Had a bad day? Lost a job? Relationship troubles? Why not just go travel for a couple of years? This book made me want to go on a Honeymoon with My Brother. I enjoyed living vicariously through the Wisners. What a refreshing read. It made me laugh (the "dating" stories). It made me cry (LaRue). It made me remember my own travels (Prague). The writing was honest and real. I was impressed with Franz's ability to share so many personal experiences so openly. The adventures were fascinating. I had a hard time putting the book down and was bummed when I was finished with it. My book club read it and enjoyed it tremendously. We have read memoirs before but found this one to be one of our favorites. We cannot wait to read what Franz and Kurt are up to next. And I keep thinking of ways they might need an extra person (to carry a backpack?) so that I can go along...
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Format: Hardcover
I too had great hopes for this books after hearing the NPR segment. But I found the book supercifial , and not particularly well written (to say nothing of the annoying use of italics). Franz is demoted in his position at work, and his long term relationship falls apart, but there is no real reflection on the reasons for either. He tells you that his performance was exceptional and he was incredibly successful in his job, and implies that the demotion was entirely arbitrary. He never even explores why his employer stripped his job of its key responsibilities and knocked him out of the inner circle. The demotion and break up take up the first 75 pages. I just was not drawn in. The expression that keeps coming to mind is: a mile wide and a half inch deep. His travel tales and personal travails are explained, but never beyond the surface. His description of culture of and recent developmts in Prague is non existent, as he dwells on his escapades with a woman he hooked up with, and then dumps. He states in the book that one of his friends advised him to "go deep", meaning deep into the continents, away from the obvious tourist destinations. Good advice. I wished that the author would have gone much deeper, and not just skimmed the surface.
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Format: Hardcover
The author describes at some length his jobs as a Republican op--soliciting money for governmental favors--and a corporate op--soliciting governmental favors for money. He seems to see it is sleazy, but...so what? he's making out--even demoted, he gets a $70,000 bonus. It's all a big game--any consequences for anyone out of his cohort is not on his radar.

So off he goes around the world with his brother and we learn more about his character: If you aren't a member of elite lounge in the airport, just brazen your way in--you're male, good looking, have a high end watch, and you're white. No problem! There's a long line at customs--two hundred people. Just barge your way to the front and cut in. No problem! He screws women in cultures about which he is totally ignorant and then is offended if they a)ask for money or b) stick around after he is bored (which is soon). No problem!--he just blows them off. Beggars? No problem!--after all they're all fakes, right? He gives numerous hints for making fun of them, getting rid of them, etc. everything but giving them anything.

He loves Africa: the people are suffering horribly but they're still cheerful, still have some fun. Perfect! It means it's no problem!

I find it discouraging that no other reviewer seemed bothered by this stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
I saw this book in the bookstore and the name caught my eye. This book was wonderfully fun to read and so interesting. I feel like I know Franz and Kurt just from reading about their travels.

As another reviewer said, don't judge the brothers because they have money. They had fun....how many of us can say that we just had a wonderful and fun experience (for 2 years)? Their travel into and insight on lesser known countries was so interesting. The way the brothers reconnect is inspiring.

Hopefully I will be able to travel vicariously through the brothers again and again.

Lastly, Annie made a BIG MISTAKE!
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