The Longest Way Home

by Andrew McCarthy
First sentence: “‘Are you awake?'”
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Content: There’s some mild swearing, maybe one or two f-bombs, and mention of past alcoholism. It’s in the Biography section of the bookstore.

First: yes it’s that Andrew McCarthy. I knew he’d written a couple of books – I had put in a proposal for him to come to Wichita when he released his YA novel – but I thought it was more along the lines of “he’s got a vanity project” rather than “he’s a real writer.” Well, color me wrong: he’s an actual, real writer. And this book was quite good.

Seven years into his relationship with his now-wife, D, and four years after they first got engaged, she decided that they really Ought to get married, and started planning their wedding. McCarthy, reacting the only way he thought he could, immediately took off on writing assignments. The book follows his path through Patagonia, Costa Rica, the Amazon, Venice, Baltimore, up Kilimanjaro and ultimately to Ireland, where he and D do, actually get married (not a spoiler; the book opens with their honeymoon). It’s an introspective book, one where McCarthy examines his past relationships – including with his first wife and their son – and history as he tries to reconcile why he doesn’t, actually, want to get married. But it’s also a good travel book: McCarthy is a generous traveler, one that doesn’t mind being adventurous or solitary but also will interact and participate in a group (though he complains about it). I found myself captivated by his writing, and enjoying the time I spent in his reflections. It’s a good thing he’s got a few other works of non-fiction (including his new one, about walking the Camino) that I just might get around to reading. (Bonus: he’s coming to Wichita as part of the tour for the Camino book. I just might have to go!)

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