John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


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More Dumb Dog Photos

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


A lot of people have been sending me photos of their dogs. I'm a sucker for these things and never get tired of them. This one came in from Debbie of metro Philly and is of her Welsh terrier and "bad dog" Jilly. Ya gotta love those shades. I originally wondered how Jilly was able to sit there and resist digging into the plate of food -- until Debbie told me the burger in front of her was ceramic. That would have made no difference to Marley, who would have gobbled it down nonetheless, and then eaten the sunglasses for dessert. Burp!

posted by John Grogan at 4:44 PM 19 comments


Amy's Marley

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Whaddaya think? This little guy could be a stand-in on the cover of Marley & Me.

posted by John Grogan at 8:51 PM 0 comments


Another Marley in Town

If you've read my book, you might be of the opinion that one Marley in this world is quite enough, thank you. But I'm learning that there are many Marleys out there...yellow Labrador retrievers who share not only his looks but his -- how can I be kind here? -- ebullient and irrepresible personality. (Diplomatic, huh?) Some of them even share his name.

Amy R. from Racine, Wisconsin, wrote me to let me know she, too, has a yellow Lab named Marley. (That's him in the photo above.) And, wouldn't you know it, he's got the same behavior genes, too. Not only that, but my family's story is eerily similar to Amy's story. She writes:
"I just recently purchased your book. I saw the picture of the cover and i just melted. I have a 1 year old labrador named, Marley. We named him after Bob marley, also. Everything in your book is like a picture perfect description of my Marley. He was here for my first miscarriage, just like Jenny's. The nicknames that you called Marley are the same nicknames we call our Marley. We also purchased him from a farm. I haven't finished your book yet but I thought that I would let you know that maybe our dogs might just be related. Also in the beginning when you were talking about Saint Shaun, we also had a dog like that. Everything you describe about Shaun our Labrador Jack did. He died last year. He was 5 and he got hit by a car. Then I got Marley for a Christmas present. Little did I know, my life was about to change dramatically. He is a very hyper dog. He can't sit still for more than 2 seconds. When I play fetch with him I have to do the same thing you did with the sticks. Marley has eaten every pair of my shoes, every pair of my underwear, he has broken our doors from smashing through them. And lately he has been going nuts when the weather is bad. The realism of your Marley to my Marley is quite odd. Each day I read about your Marley, I feel if God has anything to do with our lives, these 2 dogs must be tied together somehow."

Heaven help you if they are, Amy. (Just joking.) Your Marley is about as cute as they come. How hyper could something so adorable be? (Yeah, I made that mistake once myself...)

posted by John Grogan at 8:25 PM 0 comments


Best Nonfiction of 2005

On Nov. 1, the Christian Science Monitor published a really great review of Marley & Me. In today's edition it surprised me with something even better. It published its list of "Best Nonfiction 2005," and I'm happy to report that Marley & Me made the cut. The list describes my book as "The funny, touching tale of life with a difficult dog." Others making the best-of-year list were Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat", Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink", David McCullough's "1776" and Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." I'm totally honored and humbled to make the same list as these incredible writers.

Christian Science Monitor Book Editor Marjorie Kehe also named Marley & Me as one of her Top 10 personal favorites for 2005. Her list includes both fiction and non-fiction and includes Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" and "The Painted Drum" by Louise Erdrich. So, OK, I squeaked in at #10 of 10, but I'll happily take it.

Wow, talk about an early Christmas present. Thank you, Christian Science Monitor!

You can see the entire Best of 2005 List (there's also one for fiction) and Kehe's personal favorites at http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1129/p12s02-bogn.html. The site also has a link to the original Monitor review.

posted by John Grogan at 11:58 AM 2 comments


A Step up on the B&N List

Monday, November 21, 2005

I got some good news tonight: Marley & Me clicked up one notch on the Barnes & Noble Store Nonfiction Bestseller List for the week ending Nov. 19, moving to #5. The list is based on sales for the week at all B&N stores, and it puts me in line after Frank McCourt at #1, Jimmy Carter at #2, Doris Kearns Goodwin at #3 and Thomas Friedman at #4. And it puts me before Al Franken at #6 and Joan Didion at #7.
To read the complete B&N List, go to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bestsellers/warnew_rnav.asp?PID=6873&userid=xI47sclBkh&cds2Pid=6848&linkid=493185


Yesterday (Sunday, November 20) I moved up to #9 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and I'm scheduled to move up to #8 next Sunday. (The Times has a two-week delay between the counting week and the publication of that week's list.)

A little more market news: Target stores nationally will begin carrying Marley & Me beginning Thanksgiving weekend. And I've received reports from readers that Kroger supermarkets also are now carrying it in their limited books sections.
And finally, the big-volume warehouse club Costco will be carrying the book, but not beginning until after the New Year.

So I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And believe me, I'll be giving thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

posted by John Grogan at 10:52 PM 0 comments


The "Other" Marley

Saturday, November 19, 2005

posted by John Grogan at 11:57 AM 0 comments


Will the Real Marley Please Bark Twice?

When my wife Jenny and I named our Lab Marley, we really thought we were a couple of complete originals. Who else on the planet could possibly have dreamed up the idea of naming their dog after a famous raggae star? Man, were were geniuses!
As it turns out, a few others had the same idea... Since Marley & Me came out, I've been getting a steady stream of e-mails from the owners of dogs -- an alarming number of them male Labrador retrievers -- named....yes, you guessed it, Marley. What's funny is many of them have attached photos, and their Marleys even LOOK like my Marley. And, from the stories that are attached, more than a few of them ACT like him, too. Truly, a frightening proposition.
One such Marley owner is Cheryl W. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who wrote:
I just wanted to share with you that we have a yellow Lab as well, and his name is Marley too. We named him for the same reason you named yours, after Bob Marley. In August of 2001, my husband and I just lost our first dog of 10 years and had a miscarriage at the same time. So, we needed some spirit and "noise" in our house after our losses and decided we wanted another dog. It's amazing how quiet your house becomes after you lose a pet. So, we went puppy shopping and brought our Marley home a week before 9/11/01. The irony here is that he looks exactly like your Marley! I have enclosed some photos for you to enjoy. But, our Marley does not have quite the same amount of energy as yours did (unless there's a tennis ball involved!).
It was enjoyable to read your book and all of Marley's escapades and loving moments. One moment that touched me the most was when your wife was put on bedrest with Conor's pregnancy and you found Marley sitting by her bed. I am currently on bedrest with this pregnancy and there have been some days where my Marley doesn't leave my side. It's amazing how these dogs just have a gut instinct sometimes. Thank you for writing this wonderful memoir.


That's Cheryl's Marley at the top of this post. Open the back cover of Marley & Me and compare him to my Marley on the beach. Too close for comfort, don't you think? I suspect my Marley was Cheryl's Marley's evil twin. Or at least incorrigible twin.

posted by John Grogan at 8:18 AM 1 comments


And the Winner of the Marley Lookalike Contest Is...

Thursday, November 17, 2005


So, OK, there's no contest, but if there were a contest, I think I just found the winner. Jamie S. from Reading, Pennsylvania, sent me a letter describing her yellow Lab pup, Rudy, and describing how shocked she was to see the cover of Marley & Me in the bookstore. "I was immediately drawn in because the picture of Marley looks just like my Rudy, a now 9 month old yellow Lab," she wrote. "I have attached a puppy picture of what our Rudy looked like only a few months ago."
I clicked open Jamie's digital image of Rudy...and low and behold, it was like a young Marley was staring back at me. Not quite the same, but pretty darn close. Take a look at Rudy, then at 12-week-old Marley on the cover of the book. What do you think? Separated at birth?

By the way, Jamie goes on to write: "Your story reminds me of us. We have only been married a year and a half and as soon as we bought our house a year ago we decided to get a dog that spring. And our lives have never been the same...we are in love with our POOCH! We have taken him to two puppy classes and he goes to a puppy play group every Saturday. He doesn't listen to me at all and has eaten more socks and undergarments than I can count. He brings us so much joy (and frustration) everyday, but all of it is worth it."
Oh, don't I know that drill....

posted by John Grogan at 3:26 PM 0 comments


And here he is...Fred

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


In the post below, I reprinted a letter from Theresa
from Brooklyn, who described her very Marleyesque
chocolate Lab, Fred. After I told her I had put her
letter up her on my blog, she was kind enough to
share a photo of the boundlessly joyous Fred.
So here he is....

posted by John Grogan at 8:53 PM 0 comments


Meet Fred, a Lab Like No Other

I've been hearing about a lot of incredible dogs lately. Incredibly good dogs and incredibly mischievous dogs. Mostly, incredibly memorable dogs. People are telling their stories on the "Share Your Stories" page of my website (button above), and in private emails to me.

One of my favorites came from a New Yorker, whose oversized chocolate Lab Fred
safely falls well within the elite club of MOST MEMORABLE DOGS. I loved her email and am printing it here in its entirety. The ham-sandwich story is So Totally Marley. Separated at birth?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Fred:

Thank you for a great read.
Of course, I had a Lab (chocolate)who I named
Fred (he so looked like a Fred). I had him for
almost 14 years. I had to give him to friends of mine
when he turned 8 so I had joint custody of this
gigantic goofball (about 115 pounds at his largest)
for the last 5 years. My friends turned out to be the
perfect family for him (I was living in a studio
in the city)--they had an acre of land in Rockland
County. His adoptive father, Danny, is a NYC fireman
who had an amazing bond with Fred and said that
he could not have gotten through 9/11 without Fred.

I read somewhere that labs are missing a part of
the brain that signals when they're full
--I know this was defnitely the case with Fred--
our very own food disposal and vacuum cleaner.
He loved food so much that I was
convinced that if he were human, he would
prostitute himself for any type of food
(especially watermelon and bagels).

Of course, Fred was a food thief extraordinaire
--one time, he stole a leftover sandwich out of the
car(it was half a sandwich inside a plastic
sandwich bag that was inside a brown paper lunch bag).
He smelled the sandwich and took off with the
whole paper bag and was about to dig out the
sandwich out in the front yard (I think he
was thinking picnic). Then he noticed me chasing
him down and had a look of panic. He was not
about to lose this prize of a ham sandwich so he
looked at me wildly for a second--looked down at
the bag--looked at me again--and came up with a
quick solution. He grabbed the whole paper bag
with his huge gator-like mouth and GULP--he had
swallowed the entire brown bag in one gigantic gulp!
Yes--he got the sandwich in time--WITH the plastic
sandwich bag AND the brown paper bag! When the plastic
bag finally came out the next day or so--it looked
like he had smuggled cocaine out of Colombia or
something.

Fred also loved the water and would go to the
neighbors across the street (an Emmy-award
actress and a NYC policeman couple) and bark
in their backyard until they opend the gate and let
him swim in their pool--he'd take a dip and then
stand outside their back door until they came out and
gave him a piece of cold cut--then he'd walk back
nonchalantly back to the house--that was his
idea of a dog day's afternoon. He had trained a TV
actress and NYC cop for a free swim and snack.

Well, that's just a couple of my memories of Fred
--he died almost 2 years ago and had a great life.
The doctors told me that he had about 6 weeks
to live (cancerous stomach tumors that had spread)
--but he lived about 15 months--that's the power of
love, alternative medicine and homemade chicken
and rice everyday (thanks Lisa and Danny!)
And thank you for a great book--I'm going to buy
2 copies--one for Danny and one for my brother who
misses Fred as much as I do.

Best regards,
Theresa K.
Brooklyn, NY

posted by John Grogan at 3:13 PM 0 comments


Better Homes & Gardens

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In case any of you are curious, I wanted to let you know that in the current (December) issue of Better Homes & Gardens, yours truly has an essay on the back page. I imagine you can guess the topic. Yes, Marley. The essay deals with one of our most painful chapters with our daffy Lab -- our close call with giving him away. Jenny had just come through a very touch-and-go, difficult pregnancy. We had two babies at home, a newborn and a 15-month-old. We were up constantly in the night, totally sleep deprived and worn down. And Marley continued his joyous destruction of our house. Jenny gave me the ultimatum: "You find him a new home, or I will." A chapter in Marley & Me deals with this difficult period in our lives -- and so does the BH&G essay. The fact that this was all happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas made it all the more painful for us. The BH&G essay explores that angle of it.
...
On another note, if you haven't yet checked out the "Share Your Stories" page on my website (click the button in the menu bar above), you really should. Numerous readers have come there to share their stories of their own Marleyesque doofus dogs. Many of the stories are very, very funny. Some very touching. Some a combination of the two. Their stories show the universal nature of dog ownership. Even the good ones have their moments. One of my favorites was from the woman who said her dog opened the oven, dragged out the large ham that was cooking, and ate every trace of it. Burp!

posted by John Grogan at 3:18 PM 0 comments


Moving up the List

Monday, November 14, 2005

Marley & Me, I just learned, has moved up four spots on the Barnes & Noble Store Bestseller List from #10 to #6 for the week ending November 12. That puts me two spots behind Al Franken's "The Truth (With Jokes)" at #4 and two spots ahead of Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" at #8. Company I don't mind keeping. In fact, company I'm damned honored to keep. Make that humbled to keep.
You can view the whole list at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bestsellers/

I have also moved up The New York Times Bestseller List to #9, from #15 the previous week and #10 my debut week out. That puts me between John Berendt's "The City of Falling Angels" and Michael Jordan's "Driven From Within" on the Times' list. (To view the complete list: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/20/books/bestseller/
1120besthardnonfiction.html )

Yes, I'm still pinching myself. It all seems somehow unreal. Not that I'm complaining. Whoohoo!

posted by John Grogan at 5:34 PM 0 comments


The Waiting Game

Friday, November 11, 2005

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, but I'm back in town and (I hope) I'm going to more or less stay in town between now and the holidays. I have several signings lined up around the Philadelphia metro area (for my upcoming events: http://www.harpercollins.com/authorevents.asp?ACT=AuthorEvents&EAuthorID=29441 ), but no more travel. Book tour travel gets old pretty fast. I love the part that involves meeting readers, telling them about my book, reading an excerpt, answering questions and signing copies. That's the fun part. And it lasts 90 minutes. It's the other 22.5 hours of the day that are the problem. Being on book tour is basically mostly about waiting. Waiting at airports, waiting in hotels, waiting for cabs, waiting for appointments. And I'm not much for waiting.

But while I was on the road I did manage to make the most of it. I ate good Indian food and walked on the beach in Fort Lauderdale (before the hurricane made things really interesting), visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, hoofed around Pittsburgh, visited old friends in several cities, hung out with the escorts (it's not nearly as racy as it sounds) hired to show me around town and get me to my events. And in my hotel room, I tried to write, but found myself far too distracted for that. So I checked e-mail, obsessed over my hourly ratings on amazon and bn.com, and did what authors on book tours mostly do...waited.

posted by John Grogan at 7:53 PM 0 comments


Stories of the Heart

Marley & Me has been out for about three weeks now. Sales are going really well -- far beyond my expectations. I never dreamed I'd come out of the gate at #10 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and still be there three weeks later.
One of the great joys of having the book out there is I've been hearing from a lot of other dog lovers who have read Marley & Me and wanted to share their own stories. Many of those stories are on the "Share Your Stories" page of my website.
Most letters are coming into my website email box. I'm surprised (a little) to hear how many people have dogs just like Marley -- or at least close runners-up for the title of "World's Worst Dog." And I've been moved by your stories of having to say farewell to your own beloved pets.
I wanted to share one such letter here because it touched me when I read it. It comes from a nurse in southern New Jersey:

Recently, facing surgery and a recuperative period at home, my family asked me if there was anything that I would like to have to "keep me busy". I'm a labor and delivery nurse. In addition to my three 12 hour shifts, I also do per diem and agency nursing at other hospitals. A normal work week for me is usually 50-60 hours. The thought of being home for five or six weeks was frightening, I was afraid I'd lose my mind.
Waiting for me at home when I arrived home was a copy of "Marley & Me". An avid dog freak, (I have four and foster rescue dogs), I was looking forward to reading about a dog that sounded very much like my almost 15 year old Brittany Spaniel. The dog possessed absolutely no manners, and knew just what pushed all of our buttons, but a more devoted companion never existed. Britt-Knee (original, huh?) had been suffering a variety of symptoms related to old age; deafness, arthritis, and more recently, seizures, but she kept plowing along. The dishwasher was never opened that she didn't stick her head in to lick whatever residual was left behind. She continued to climb into the shower as soon as it was vacated to lick the drain (sometimes not waiting until you had stepped out), and then track paw prints across the white ceramic floor tile. She'd drink your morning coffee from your cup as soon as you turned you back, and then return the favor by belching in your face. We loved her.
Britt was waiting for me on the sofa when I came home from the hospital. She lifted her head and licked me with her extremely unpleasant breath, but who noticed? She followed me to bed and took her place at my feet, satisfied in knowing that her "mom" was home with her.
Around four a.m. the following morning she started to shake violently with another seizure. As I held her, as I had done a half dozen times before, she moaned. This was something new, she never seemed as if she were in pain. No sooner had the seizure ended when another began. And then another. It was at this time that we knew we had to finally do what we had postponed three weeks prior. A frantic drive ensued on a Saturday morning to University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital from South Jersey. Still in my pajamas, I cradled my sweet dog in my lap, her body being wracked with one convulsion after another. She struggled to draw oxygen into her lungs. I held her, as I have my other pets, as the vet pushed the medication through her IV. And then she was gone.
I was only able to pick up your book last Friday, and then was unable to put it down. As I read Marley's story, I recalled all the stunts that my Britt had pulled, and why we loved her so much. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to laugh about "the worlds worst dog" and remember the one who ran a close second.
Sincerely, Audrey B.


Aw, Audrey, thank you for your beautiful letter and for sharing with me your final moments with your beloved Britt. I mean it literally when I tell you I feel your pain. These animals sneak into our hearts and don't let go. The hardest part of having a dog isn't the gouged floors and wrecked lawns and slashed curtains -- it's saying goodbye. I hope my book offered you some smiles, comfort and community.

posted by John Grogan at 6:00 PM 1 comments


Discovering a New Writer

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Call me Officially Discovered. Barnes & Nobles this week named me as one of its Discover Great New Writers selections for the holiday season. Marley & Me is one of 16 newly released books that made the B&N list. That means it will get special display in Barnes & Noble stores, an original B&N review (which I'm pasting below) and will be in the running at the end of the year for the Discover Award, selected from that year's Discover selections.

B&N describes the Discover Great New Writers program this way:
"Since 1990, a group of Barnes & Noble booksellers has met seasonally to select the best forthcoming new work by debuting and underappreciated writers. Chosen solely on the basis of literary merit, these exceptional books are promoted throughout Barnes & Noble. Then each spring, a group of distinguished literary jurists name two outstanding writers (one each in fiction and nonfiction) from the previous year's Discover picks for a career-changing prize -- the Discover Award."

The Barnes & Noble review reads:
FROM OUR EDITORS
The Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
Marley: 100 pounds of unbridled canine exuberance and unrelenting mischief. Marley: proud owner of a tail that could, with metronome-like regularity, clear coffee tables and topple unsuspecting toddlers. Marley: noble member of a breed famous for its ability to guide the blind, who's declared "untrainable" and bounced out of obedience class. A perfect dog? Maybe not. But when they plucked him from a litter 13 years ago, John Grogan and his new wife gamely set out on an adventure that would change their lives forever.

As a puppy, this whirling dervish with huge golden paws and an enormous head jumps, chews, careens, and goes nuclear at the first rumble of thunder. With his uncontainable energy, Marley isn't exactly the calm, attentive, obedient Lab the Grogans had hoped for. As the years pass and the family grows, Marley teaches his owners hard lessons in patience. His neurotic behavior, though mellowed over time, becomes a lasting and finally acceptable characteristic, and his loyalty and love enrich the Grogans' own notions of friendship and responsibility.

Joyfully infectious, Marley & Me is a loving valentine to one dog and his unquenchable spirit. John Grogan has captured their journey together, and in this delightfully moving story, has set the bar high for dog owners everywhere. (Holiday 2005 Selection)

...
See the complete list and read about the Discover program at

posted by John Grogan at 3:13 PM 0 comments


More Bestseller News

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I just found out that Marley & Me is #10 on the Barnes & Nobles Store Bestseller List for the week ending Oct. 29. This ranking is based on in-store sales at all B&Ns. See the Top 10 lineup at:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/bestsellers/warnew_rnav.asp?PID=6873&userid=xI47sclBkh&cds2Pid=6848&linkid=493185
...
Marley & Me also came in at #14 on the most recent Wall Street Journal Bestseller List and the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List. Both lists can be viewed at:
http://www.sacbee.com/24hour/entertainment/books/news/story/2847450p-11508004c.html

As I mentioned in the entry below, Marley & Me ended its first week at #10 on The New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List (to appear in the NYT Book Review this Sunday, Nov. 6). I'll learn in a couple days whether my book managed to stay on the New York Times list for a second week. Wish me luck!
...
I'm heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow morning (Wednesday, Nov. 2) and will be doing a reading and signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2705 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, at 7 p.m. If you live in the area, I'd love to meet you! To see a full list of my appearances, go to my marleyandme.com home page and click "events" in my opening note.
That's all for now. Bad dogs rock!

posted by John Grogan at 8:27 AM 0 comments

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