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A moving book
on 1 November 2013
Like many 80s girls, I grew up with the Brat Pack films: The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink and all the others captured something for our generation that remains frozen in time and still has a resonance today. Of all the young actors that contributed to the period, Andrew McCarthy was my favourite - in particular I had a huge crush on Kevin Dolenz, his character in St Elmo's Fire. Kevin happened to be an aspiring writer, which takes on a new light when considering the parallel career Andrew McCarthy has carved for himself as an award winning travel writer. When I heard that "Kevin" had written a book for real, I just had to read it.
I wasn't really sure what I would find and I was very pleasantly surprised. McCarthy has obviously worked on his craft in the ten years or so he has been writing for the likes of The National Geographic and The New York Times, among others. He certainly can write and rather well.
The book is half travel log and half memoir. It recalls six journeys to very different destinations - Patagonia, the Amazon in Peru, Costa Rica, Baltimore, Vienna, Kilimanjaro - in the run up to McCarthy's wedding to his second and current wife, culminating with their wedding in Dublin. During his travels, he reflects on his past, present and future and on how he can reconcile his strong sense of independence with his desire to settle into family life. On the way, he encounters places and people he so colourfully describes and skilfully brings to life.
"The Longest Way Home" is an interesting, funny and moving account of a man's experience of himself, his relationship with the people he loves and those with whom he briefly connects during his travels. Recommended.