Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy
The Longest Way Home is part travelogue and part personal memoir. Long time travel writer (and of course actor) Andrew McCarthy chronicles his quest to find the courage and the strength to give himself more fully to his fiancee (now wife) and two children. He struggles between wanting to be close to people, especially his family, and resisting the closeness. Where his fiancee/wife loves being around people, McCarthy craves alone time. There's a distance between him and the people around him, the distance being both figurative and literal. After he and his fiancee decide they are finally going to actually get married, McCarthy plans a series of trips around the world, and when he wants to get away, he really gets away. His trips take him to Patagonia, Kilimanjaro, Costa Rica, and the Amazon. (Okay, he also goes to Vienna with his fiancee and soon to be in-laws and to Baltimore where his best friend grew up.)
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. McCarthy's physical and personal journeys were interesting and easy to relate to. His writing shifts easily between his literal and figurative journeys, much like the way one's minds work. One minute he's looking at a flea and the next he's remembering a conversation with this fiancee.
I'm not giving anything away to say that he and fiancee eventually do make it to the altar, that is made clear at the beginning of the book, it is only a question of how he'll get there and what emotional shape he'll be in. I can't remember the exact wording but there is an old adage about how no matter how far you run you can't outrun yourself. That is more or less the situation in which McCarthy finds himself. He could travel to the ends of the earth but he will still have to deal with himself. As he travels McCarthy does just that, sorting himself out emotionally and mentally. Reading McCarthy's story sparked my own wanderlust, figuratively and literally. I have a feeling I'm not the only one who feels this way.