Andrew McCarthy

Overall Rating: 3.8
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3.8
Author: Andrew McCarthy
Title: The Longest Way Home - One Man's Quest For The Courage To Settle Down.
Time: 2011
Destination: world
Length: 5 months
Type: backpacking

listen to your heart

The story: in the early 2010s, American actor Andrew McCarthy decides to get married a second time. The problem is that besides being an actor, he’s also a travel writer and a bit restless. So when his new marriage looms on the horizon, he sets out on several trips – “in order to gain the insight necessary to bring me home.”

Andrew McCarthy, soul searcher

Unfortunately, it becomes very clear very soon: McCarthy doesn’t just go traveling, he goes soul searching. And it doesn’t help his storytelling. 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 interesting. But McCarthy also forces us to dig through page after page of gems like:

“I was myself, fully alive and satisfied in simply being”

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”

Yawnus maximus.

buy if you like 80s love songs?

To me, much of the book read like the lyrics from a Roxette song. It seemed as though McCarthy was always spending his time trying to listen to his heart while also thinking that it must have been love. Don’t get me wrong: I like Roxette. I just don’t want to read a whole book of their lyrics.

the dilemma

There is something worth noting, though. In spite of all the shortcomings of his book, McCarthy touches upon an important problem: the dilemma of wanting to explore while longing to settle down at the same time. This might seem like an egotistical problem, 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.

who might want to read this

McCarthy’s feat of traveling to a few places is nothing. His storytelling is okay, his writing style is good, but the insights and observations he shares are negligible.

If you’re into soul-searching, you might want to read this.

Also read: Henry Rollins, for something less whiny.

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