Author: Andrew McCarthy
Title: The Longest Way Home. One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.
Time: around 2011
Destination: South America, Africa, Europe, and others
Length: several short trips
Type: regular transport
Listen to your heart
The story: AMC is an American actor, a recovering alcoholic, a divorced father and a dude who is about to get married again. But he’s also a restless travel writer. So when his new marriage looms at the horizon, he sets out on several trips – „in order to gain the insight necessary to bring me home“ (p.26). This book is not so much about these trips, but about his persona, his past, his romantic feelings and about the difficulties of being a vagabond with a family attached.
Andrew McCarthy, soul searcher
Unfortunately, it becomes very clear very soon: AMC doesn’t just go traveling, he goes soul searching. And it doesn’t help his writing. Brooding about his own restless heart, he makes sure to stay humorless most of the time. He visits remote places and ponders over things like:
„The town is more inviting than I expected, and prosperous in a way that makes me wish I had gotten here ten years earlier, before all the success.“
Okay, not all of his travel notes are as ignorant as the above, and some are actually even a bit interesting. But AMC also forces us to dig through page after page of „I was myself, fully alive and satisfied in simply being“ (p.18) and „I need to test myself, to prove myself, I need an achievement I can point to, something that reflects my abilities and willingness to persevere“ (p.196). Yawnus maximus.
buy if you like 80s music?
To me, it seemed as though much of the book read like the lyrics to an 80s/90s love song. Ever listened to the Swedish group Roxette? Here’s an excerpt from their 1986 hit song „Listen to Your Heart“, which reminded me of AMC’s writing style:
„I don’t know where you’re going
and I don’t know why
but listen to your heart
before you tell him goodbye“
If you ask me, words like these are really only bearable when they are delivered in the form of a (good) song. Unfortunately, AMC chose to write a whole book like this.
There is something worth noting though: in spite of all this, AMC touches upon the dilemma of wanting to explore and longing to settle down at the same time. This might seem like an egotistical problem (which it actually is), but it’s a problem nonetheless. And if you manage to read past the soul-searching and the listen-to-your-heart stuff, then you might actually find that there is a bit of value in it.
It’s just not that much.