I just finished Andrew McCarthy’s book, The Longest Way Home. I found it a couple of years ago after reading a CNN article about actor Andrew McCarthy and his blossoming career as a travel writer. Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching McCarthy on the silver screen. While he’s always struck me as kind of cute, he also annoyed me to some extent. I wouldn’t say he was my favorite member of the so-called “Brat Pack”of the 80s.
Who knew he would one day enjoy a successful career at National Geographic Traveler? McCarthy is still involved in the entertainment business, but now he also travels and writes for a living. When I read about his burgeoning new career, I decided I wanted to read his book. I downloaded it in 2012, but I’ve only just now read it. I just couldn’t bring myself to start reading it. But then, once I started reading it, I was very pleasantly surprised.
The Longest Way Home is an interesting look at Andrew McCarthy’s life. Yes, he includes some discussion of his early years and his acting career, but this book is not about what Andrew McCarthy was first famous for doing. The discussion about his acting career is really more to explain how it is that he became a travel writer. He also writes about his relationship with his second wife, a charming Irish woman he refers to as “D”. Later, he identifies her as Delores. “D” is the mother of McCarthy’s second child, a girl. His ex-wife is the mother of his son. Both children figure prominently within McCarthy’s book and, I’m happy to report, it seems like everybody gets along reasonably well.
The rest of the book is about Andrew McCarthy’s exotic travels. He writes of taking a cruise on the Amazon on a ship that I suspect is part of Aqua Expeditions, a very cool looking cruise line that offers cruises on the Amazon and Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Mekong. I’m not totally sure, since McCarthy isn’t so much about touting specific cruise lines as he is about writing about his experiences. He includes anecdotes about visiting Vienna, Baltimore, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Patagonia. He usually travels alone, with people who don’t know who he is/was…
In another chapter, he writes about hiking Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, getting all the way to the summit. I was pretty riveted by his story. He describes others who happened to be on the trip with him in colorful detail; I particularly enjoyed his comments about the cranky tour guide, who was constantly insisting that everyone use a pulse oximeter to make sure no one’s blood oxygen levels got too low. He also writes about his frustration when one of the people in the group decided he wanted to camp at the frigid summit of the mountain. You would think he would have been outvoted, but one of the rules followed by the tour guide is that if one person wants to stay, everyone has to stay. So there McCarthy was, on the top of a huge mountain at about 15000 feet… it was freezing and there was little oxygen. He had a headache, a tight chest, and a correspondingly nasty disposition.
In the midst of all this travel, McCarthy and “D” are trying to plan their wedding in Dublin, Ireland, which is apparently not as simple as one might think. A series of mishaps and oversights conspire to put off the big day. Some of them are due to McCarthy’s fear of commitment and some are due to plain bad luck.
Anyway, I did enjoy the book and it really made me look at Andrew McCarthy in a different light. The Longest Way Home is more than just a travel memoir; it’s a fascinating book about life. And now, having read it, I want to go to the Amazon… and read more of McCarthy’s writings about his travels.