Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Longest Trip Home, update

Just read a review of The Longest Trip Home on the New York Times website which says what I was getting at in my Memoir post. Janet Maslin writes, "It paints a fond family portrait, especially of his parents and their enduring marriage. But it is also lightweight and a bit generic, with tales that fall into predictable categories and deliver the expected nostrums."

OK, I wouldn't have said nostrums. In fact, I wouldn't say I was expecting any nostrums at all when I cracked open The Longest Trip Home, but I agree with Maslin's point that the anecdotes about Grogan's childhood are charming but familiar. (Unlike the word "nostrums," which is a new one for me.)

But the review goes on to say, "All that changes in the book’s final third, after Mr. Grogan realizes that a sea change has occurred." Combine that with the favorable reviews on blogs like The Book Lady's Blog and Bermuda Onion's Weblog . . . I'm thinking I should finish the book after all.


  1. If you finish it, I hope you like it as much as I did. I think part of the appeal for me is I'm about the same age as John so I remember the times he talked about. Also, my parents are in their 80s and their health is starting to fail, so I could relate to what John and his siblings went through.

  2. Some good reviews, including yours bermudaonion, almost convinced me to read this. And I too am of the same age, remember the same times. But...even from the good reviews, all I could think is "I have heard this story before." In fact I know these people and I know their story...I guess I want I book that tells me something new. So, I think I will skip it.

    funny, two people whose reviews I respect..two very different opinions!

  3. Thanks for the shout-out. I understand what you're saying about the lessons Grogan recounts being a bit familiar, and at first, I found myself wondering if he was being trite, but I ended up thinking that their familiarity is part of what makes them beautiful---Grogan is telling stories about the things that happen to all of us as we grow up, so of course they feel familiar, but that familiarity doesn't make them any less meaningful or important to reflect on. I do hope you'll finish it!

  4. Interesting comments, I just received an ARC of this as a gift from someone at LibrayThing. So I will read it. I just wanted to say that usually I want settings and stories as different from own as you can get. But once in a while I need the familiar too, especially childhood things it seems. So the discussions here have peaked my interest.