Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

Post by Kerrie

Author event with Andrew McCarthy, April 27 at the Fort Collins Hilton. 

I am excited about the upcoming Northern Colorado Writers Conference (April 26-27) for many reasons. First and foremost, it is an event that brings me incredible joy because it resonates so deeply with my personal mission statement; to use my God-given talents to support and encourage writers of all levels and genres to achieve their dreams. Secondly, I get to meet and reconnect with so many wonderful people.

Andrew McCarthyThis year I am looking forward to meeting our keynote speaker, Andrew McCarthy. This is partly because I was teenager in the 80’s and loved watching him in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire and Mannequin. But the other big reason is because I admire him as a writer. I enjoy reading his many travel articles and I have read his memoir twice.

 McCarthy writes with incredible insight, depth and openness that draws you in and keeps you reading. In his memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, we journey with him on his travels as he explores his life and his recent decision to get married for a second time.

 The book opens in New York where McCarthy talks about his early acting career, his family growing up and his current life. Following the discussion with his partner of seven years (also the mother of his daughter) about getting married, he began to have doubts and questioned his decision. He responded by reaching out to editors and assembling a string of writing assignments to some of the most exotic places in the world before the wedding.

“I’m going on these journeys, not to escape the commitment I recently made—but quite the opposite, I’m going to use them the way I have always used travel: to find answers. I’m setting out in order to gain the insight necessary to bring me home.”

He takes us to Patagonia, The Amazon, The Osa pennisula in Costa Rica and Mt. Kilimanjaro. He travels deep into jungles, deep into cultures and deep into himself, revealing questions that many of us have had. Do I belong? Am I doing the right thing? Am I a good parent?

In Costa Rica he meets people from the United States who have relocated and started a new life.

“Karen, like Tom and Pat, is yet another person I meet who walked away from it all with a dream of something better…I have long harbored notions of escape, of walking away and looking back…So maybe that’s what I’m doing down here in Osa—getting a good look at those who did escape and to challenge my own propensity toward utopian fantasies that can corrode any chance at real happiness.”

His journey ends in Dublin where his wedding is supposed to take place. Whether or not he found the answers he was seeking and gets married is something you will have to discover by reading the book. But I can assure you, it won’t be wasted time. McCarthy is an amazing writer, creating a strong sense of place in each location, showing us his vulnerability by writing with raw honesty and most of all, telling a great story.

 If you are attending the conference, you will get a copy of this wonderful memoir. If you aren’t, I highly recommend you get a copy to read.

 Have you read this book yet or any of McCarthy’s articles?

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