The star of seminal 1980s coming-of-age movies St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink looks back on a decade that was more angsty for him than for his characters in this heartfelt memoir. Actor McCarthy (The Longest Way Home) revisits many raucous showbiz indignities—“my first day on the set of a feature film was spent in bra and panties”—and delves into the gnawing anxieties behind his heart-throb exterior: a sullen aloofness that masked his fear at auditions; spiraling alcoholism; loneliness in an L.A., where he “felt exposed and vulnerable on the deserted streets”; alienation on the coked-up set of Less Than Zero, where “the mood on the shoot turned from dark to nefarious” with a script “full of hate and self-degradation.” McCarthy writes evocatively of his insecurities and dysfunctions—“I felt as if I existed behind a layer of opaque plexiglass... which would only clear when I took a drink”—but also of the high points when he felt “the simple joy at being there, at being alive and young” in front of the camera. McCarthy is clear-eyed and unsparing about Hollywood but takes the emotional intensity of the actor’s craft and life seriously. The result is a riveting portrait of the artist as a young man. Photos. (May)
PRAISE FOR ANDREW MCCARTHY-
"Soulful and searching . . . McCarthy's prose shines with intelligence and intimacy . . . A long, strange trip on the direction of full-throttle love."Cheryl Strayed, New York Times Book Review
"McCarthy ponders some of the biggest and most frightening questions surrounding intimacy: How does a loner connect? How does a traveler settle down? How do we merge into families without losing ourselves? The answer seems to be that all these things are impossible...and yet somehow we do it anyway. There is much to be learned, and much to be admired, in this elegant, thoughtful story."Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love
"A candid, touching, and often humorous new memoir."San Francisco Chronicle
"Combining the best aspects of Paul Theroux's misanthropy in books like Old Patagonian Express and Elizabeth Gilbert's emotions in Eat, Pray, Love, this book is hard to put down. Bound to be popular, this compelling and honest chronicle will not disappoint readers."Library Journal
"Andrew McCarthy treks from Baltimore to the Amazon, exploring his commitment issues as fearlessly as he scales Mount Kilimanjaro."Elle
"Brave and moving. . . McCarthy's keen sense of scene and storytelling ignites his accounts...[t]hreaded with an exemplary vulnerability and propelled by a candid exploration of his own life's frailties."National Geographic
"This is not some memoir written by an actor who fancies himself a world traveler. McCarthy really is a world traveler - and a damned fine writer, too...To readers who think, "Andrew McCarthy? Really?" the answer is a resounding and emphatic yes. Really."Booklist
"Rarely have I seen the male psyche explored with such honesty and vulnerability. This is the story of a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a man who finds the courage not only to face himself, but to reveal himself, and, in so doing, illuminates something about what it is to be human, fully alive, and awake."Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
"It's hard to write books that are both adventurous and touching, but Andrew McCarthy manages to pull it off and more! A smart, valuable book."Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Absurdistan
"Where lesser writers might reach for hyperbole and Roget to describe such exotic lands as Patagonia, Kilimanjaro and Baltimore, in The Longest Way Home, McCarthy leans on subtlety, a straightforward style and hard-won insights to allow his larger stories to unfold. It's not hard to imagine him as the solitary figure in the café, scribbling in a notebook by candlelight, making the lonely, tedious work of travel writing look romantic and easy."Chuck Thompson, author of Better Off Without 'Em and Smile When You're Lying
Throughout the 1980s, McCarthy represented a generation of American white suburban teenagers trying to find their place in the world. Films marketed to teens were booming, and McCarthy made the leap from struggling New York University student with a few credits to his name, to bona fide movie star, thanks to roles in films such as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo's Fire. In this memoir, he looks back at his relationship with his father, strained because of money; at the teachers who saw something in him, despite his seemingly careless attitude; and at the directors who took a chance on him, even though he didn't fit the standard leading-man model. McCarthy, an award-winning travel author (The Longest Way Home), is a talented and intelligent writer who tactfully refrains from making this a kiss-and-tell history of the Brat Pack. Instead, he focuses on his own experiences—including his bouts of alcoholism and armor of aloofness—and recounts his dawning recognition that he would prefer to work behind the camera instead of in front of it. VERDICT Students of acting will appreciate learning about McCarthy's versions of method acting and his struggles with performing for a camera. Fans of '80s cinema will love the chance to reminisce.—Lisa Henry, Kirkwood P.L., MO
In his second memoir, the former Brat Pack member offers a tell-almost-all filled with entertaining tidbits from on and off the set—and a few surprises.
Now a travel writer, TV director, and author of the bestselling YA novel Just Fly Away, McCarthy found his true life’s calling during a high school production of Oliver! “When I stepped on stage as the Artful Dodger all those years ago,” writes the author, “a light went on inside me that has never gone out.” In New York City, McCarthy found his comfort zone in Terry Hayden’s classes on Method acting and in Manhattan’s cinema revival houses. An audition advertised in Backstage led to his auspicious 1983 debut opposite Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset in Class (off-set factoid: Bissett kissed him….“Just the once”). A whirlwind of work followed, including Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Mannequin (the descriptions of which omit any mention of co-star Kim Cattrall), Fresh Horses, Less Than Zero, and Weekend at Bernie’s and its sequel. McCarthy highlights the Hollywood perks—dinners at Spago with Liza Minnelli, parties at the Playboy mansion—as well as the uneven chemistry among the Brat Pack. On the set of St. Elmo’s Fire, writes the author, Ally Sheedy was superfriendly; Emilio Estévez was not. Robert Redford, James Coburn, and Claude Chabrol make brief but key appearances, and McCarthy fondly describes channeling his buddy Eddie for movie-wardrobe choices. The author also addresses his personal struggles. From the start, public attention made him nervous, and his relationship with his father was fraught with challenges. Regarding booze, the author tracks his alcoholic trajectory fairly meticulously (he got sober in 1992 at age 29). It’s not Just Kids, but the book is a pleasant combination of name-dropping, fun insights, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the actor’s relief at jumping off his particular 1980s hamster wheel.
An enjoyable celebrity memoir from an actor who also displays writing skills.