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.
Title: The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
Author: Andrew McCarthy
Publisher: Free Press
Format: paperback ARC
Release date: September 18, 2012 (Hardcover)
Provided by: Free Press (C/O)
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Better World Books
Connect with the author: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Disclosure: An advanced reader’s copy of the book was provided from the publisher for the purpose of review.