Former 1980s heartthrob actor McCarthy embraces world travel to make sense of life after movie stardom.
The author’s debut is a linked series of introspective essays inspired by his extended trips to Patagonia, Spain, the Amazon, Costa Rica, Baltimore, Vienna, Kilimanjaro and Dublin. McCarthy, who writes for National Geographic Traveler, among other publications, is a fair writer with adequate descriptive powers at his disposal. However, much of the prose lacks wit and originality, and though he has traveled to some extraordinary places, what’s lacking here are extraordinary experiences. McCarthy often writes about the therapeutic qualities associated with traveling solo and the psychological advantages of anonymity while visiting a strange, remote place. Whether he’s walking alone in Spain, taking a group river cruise down the Amazon or slurping coffee in Vienna with his family, McCarthy’s writing slips deep into the intensely personal territory of memory. But with so much inner searching, even the most exotic surroundings fade into an amorphous blur to accommodate the author’s personal life. In fact, there’s rarely a point where readers will feel that the author has connected to his surroundings in a significant way. Although driven by Paul Theroux’s ideas about wisdom being best acquired by traveling alone, McCarthy’s ruminations on the meaning of solitary experience in relation to his surroundings never quite penetrate the ordinary.
A clunky mix of memoir and travelogue that only occasionally does justice to either form.