Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir

Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir

by Franz Wisner

Paperback(First Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312340841
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/07/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 611,534
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Franz Wisner is a writer/vagabond who, in a previous reincarnation, used to work as a lobbyist, a public relations executive, and a government press secretary. During his world journeys, he published numerous travel articles and opinion pieces, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, ABC News on-line, and Coast Magazine, among others. Franz and his brother, Kurt, are currently traveling the globe for their next book, also with St. Martin's Press.

Read an Excerpt


Amid the pine tree windbreaks and foamy Pacific shore, Sea Ranch, California, is a wonderful place to be dumped. The wild lilac and ill-tempered sea lions—they'll distract your attention for at least a few minutes after the woman of your dreams leaves you at the altar. That, and a h ell of a lot of booze.

My younger brother, Kurt, and I arrived early at the only dive bar in town, a place where the bartender would wince if he heard the words "mojito" or "caipirinha." We gave the bearded keep twenty dollars in advance to keep the drinks flowing. He put a few more beers in the cooler and promised to take special care of the group that would soon gather for the evening. It was going to be a long and interesting night.

The century-old Gualala Hotel greets visitors with white pillars and an Old West porch. Close your eves and imagine the thirsty cowboy tying his horse to the front rail. Open them and see tourists sitting around picnic tables in the dining room devouring family-size bowls of minestrone soup. The hotel's bar, with its knotty pine and boar-head decor, sits off the main entrance. It had one of those electric beer signs on the wall that morphed scenery from mountain to beach.

Kurt bought me a Budweiser and asked how I was doing. I didn't open up. I looked at his newly gray hair and thin face and realized I "couldn't" talk to him.

Growing up, the teenager's code of conduct prohibited me from associating with a brother two grade levels my junior. To impress my friends, I did everything I could to avoid him. He was happy to do the same. Since then, we saw each other only a handful of days a year. Usually around Christmas. Details of our lives were relayed through our mom. Neither of us took the initiative to do more.

I wanted to talk to Kurt. I needed to talk to Kurt, but I didn't know how. I felt an awkward paralysis, like a child who can't relate to his parents. I couldn't pull out the words. I remembered the days in the backseat of the light blue Ford station wagon. We could talk about anything back then—secret hiding places (always behind the built-in shelves in my room), optimal ways to torture our younger sister, Lisa (pin her down and pretend to spit), or that baseball card game I always seemed to lose; lay Tito Fuentes against the wall and try to knock him over from ten feet away with a Wilbur Wood or a Dusty Baker. Despite the distance between us, Kurt was still the first person I called after I learned, five days prior, my wedding was off.

I'd reached him on my cell phone as I sped up the 405 Freeway from my house in Newport Beach to my fiancee Annie's small, rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica with the industrial-strength carpet and refrigerator in need of a cleaning. I couldn't remember the last time I phoned him. Probably to relay some bad news, like the death of our grandfather. We'd grown apart during the last decade. Kurt sold real estate in Seattle while I pursued a political career in Washington, D.C., and California. He sounded surprised to hear my voice. I sensed he knew something must be wrong. I needed him like I'd never needed a brother before.

"What's up?" he said.

"Not much. Weather's nice. Played golf the other day. My wedding's off. Did I mention the weather?"



"Serious. I'm on my way up to Annie's to get dumped right now. Her brother Gerald just called me to tell me she's not going to be able to go through with it."

"Man, I'm sorry," he said in a hushed tone. "What the hell happened?"

"Long story. I'll tell you later."

"What are you going to do?"

"I have no idea. Everything's paid for. People have rented cabins for the weekend. Some folks from overseas are already en route. Nightmare."


"I haven't even been dumped yet and the only thing I can think about are those hundred phone calls I'll need to make tomorrow."

"That, um, sucks."

"I hate to ask you this, but is there any way you could fly down here to give me a hand? I'll pay for your ticket."

"No problem." he said without hesitation. "And you don't need to pay for anything. I'll leave you a message on your answering machine with my flight info."

I talked to my mom briefly after that, telling her the wedding was about to crash. I'd spared her from the rapidly rising list of problems in the previous weeks, though I knew she sensed them. Delays on invitations and unworn wedding rings are red flags to moms.

"You have no choice," she tried to console me. "She's doing you a huge favor by telling you now as opposed to after the wedding. Franz, it's a blessing. You'll see that. It might be a while, but eventually you'll see that."

I knew my parents would be hugely supportive. They always were. At times, maddeningly so. That didn't stop me from feeling I'd failed. I knew I couldn't talk to my father yet without breaking down. I just kept thinking about the photo display shelves in their living room, the ones packed with shots of their wedding in Yuba City four decades before, sister Lisa and Doug's the previous year, dogs present and past, favorite babysitters, the photo of my great-grandfather during his years in China. There'd be no Sea Ranch shots. And I wondered how long it would take until my mom removed the ones with Annie.

Copyright 2005 by Franz Wisner

Reading Group Guide

1. Why did Annie, the love of Franz's life, wait until a week before their scheduled wedding to end their relationship? Was her decision a kind act or a malicious one?

2. Franz's 98-year-old grandmother, LaRue, and her friends at the Eskaton retirement home embraced the idea of a worldwide trip immediately. How do different generations view extended travel differently, and why do you think this is?

3. What was Franz's state of mind at the beginning of the trip, in the middle, and at the end? Which questions about life did the two-year honeymoon help answer, and how?

4. What did Franz learn from Kurt during the honeymoon? And what did Kurt learn from Franz?

5. Did the book inspire you to visit a foreign country? If so, which one(s) and why? Which foreign cultures do you most admire?

6. Honeymoon with My Brother has been purchased by Sony Pictures to be turned into a movie. What kind of a movie should it be?

7. Why does travel help people who have suffered setbacks?

8. And finally: If you were going to travel with a relative for two years, who would it be? Why?

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Honeymoon With My Brother 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting look into a man's point of view after being "dumped" on his wedding day. It was heart warming to see the relationship with his brother grow from an older sibling into a "friend" who was the one he turned to for everything. The dream relationship with a sibling!!! At times it was difficult to read the "Frat Boy" attitude... My biggest complaint is that the proofreader did a terrible job! It is riddled with grammar & spelling mistakes.
msimelda on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Starts out well. A dedication to Grandma LaRue precedes the story. The book would have been much better if Wisner could have continued the LaRue connection on a constant and regular basis. I would have liked to see a thoughtful development of the relationship between the brothers discussed. The travels get boring; not enough to hold you. I think the story is told by a somewhat egotistical man. As he matures in life, his story telling and his reflections will become deeper.
dla911 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Imagine a guy jilted at the altar a few days before the wedding, who holds the "wedding" anyway (no, he does not get married), reunites with his brother (his best man, with whom he never had a close relationship) , goes on his prepaid honeymoon with his brother, whereupon they decide to quit their jobs, sell their houses and spend the next year touring the world. That is basically the plot line for Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner.But the book is so much more--a touching revelation of intertwined lives, re-bonding of the brothers, hilarious travel adventures (dead guys blocking Central American highways at midnight on the way back from bars, anyone?). Annie, his erstwhile girlfriend, probably cringed when she read the book, but he actually does a good job telling a balanced story of the relationship and breakup. And the Irvine Company, Southern California's largest landowner, who demotes Frans right after his non-wedding, gets a big-time once over for their "politicking" aimed at letting them build more subdivisions around LA. At least he gets a big bonus check the day before he quits to start his world travels.Highly recommended and tough to put down, even at midnight...Note: he lives down the hall from my son, Scott,in Brooklyn, along with his family. Nice guy!
debnance on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Wisner was all set to get married and head off on a fantastic honeymoon when he got a call from his fiancee. She'd changed her mind. The wedding was off.Wisner decided to go on his honeymoon anyway, taking his brother along for company. The honeymoon evolved into a two year, round-the-world trip. Wisner has a great sense of picking out the coolest parts of his trip to tell as stories. I also loved his lists.
PermaSwooned on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Interesting concept. Mr. Wisner's bride virtually left him at the altar, and so he celebrated the "wedding" with friends, since some money could not be recouped, and went on the honeymoon to Costa Rica with his brother. Both of them encountered job difficulties, so they quit their jobs, sold lots of stuff and took off for 2 years to travel the world. Many of the travel stories were very interesting, however, the narrator was sort of annoying. One can sort of understand what the bride was thinking.
ckoller on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Such a tremendous book! A must read for siblings. This book is truly amazing. It inspired me to reach out and reconnect with my brother and follow my dream of traveling.
bookstar on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I wanted to love this book. A story of travel and self discovery, but I couldn't even finish it. Although the places the two brother's visited were interesting, the stories told by Franz were far from it. I found his writing to be long-winded, and boring. The details weren't fascinating and I just couldn't find a reason to turn the page. After trying for too long, I gave up.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is one of those "what if I did this?" memoirs. Mr. Wisner and his brother find themselves on a massive trip around the world, exploring where the wind takes them, forging brotherly bonds, and coming to terms with some of the disappointments of the past. It's easy reading, there is just enough personal narrative to make the reader interested in the author, without feeling like an expose, and there is a wonderful flavor of the world.
worldsedge on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Kind of a cute premise, some interesting asides and humorous stories, but on balance I just could not engage with the main character. Nor did I really even ever get a sense of the locales where he was travelling. It seemed to be page after page, "Look at me, ma, an Orange County Republican in Moscow, Vietnam, Zambia, ------- fill in the blank." Perhaps the failing is on my part, given that he and his brother did try to step outside the usual places Americans go when they go abroad, but I just could not shake a strange sense of self-absorption.
tinkerbellkk on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Wonderful insights on travel with no boundaries. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about these two brothers and how they had to travel to foreign places and experience life in a different landscape in order to really know each other.
literarysarah on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The concept for this book is great: A man who's dumped by his fiance the week before the wedding decides to take his brother on his honeymoon and they end up traveling around the world. I really wanted to like it and I found some of his stories quite interesting. As the book wore on, though, I started to find his tone a bit preachy and his descriptions of people and places increasingly hazy. Wisner can't help that he grew up very WASPy and privileged, but his point of view is so different from my own that I couldn't help being frustrated by some of his pronouncements. Still, the memoir material about his relationship is interesting enough to give it a chance as long as you don't get hung up on his ideas about backpackers as "drawstring pant-wearing, Hacky-Sacking, white Rasta freaks" and the usefulness of a Maxim article about how to pick up women who don't speak English.
heaward on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This was a travel memoir written from a different perspective than usual. I would call the author a "man's man" though I don't like the expression. Maybe he's a little insecure. Not the usual self-deprecating humor of Bill Bryson or J. Maarten Troost. Still, a very interesting story of traveling the world and bonding with his brother. Fascinating to learn how they arranged their lives to make it work, but they had the money to do it.
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