John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


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Marley Hops the Pond

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Two weekends ago, Catherine O'Brien, a reporter for The Times of London flew over from the UK to visit Jenny, the kids and me at our home in Pennsylvania. We had a grand time with her, and she gave me a brief tutorial in the World Cup. We both marveled at the many parallels in our lives -- kids, country homes, journalism careers, gardening passions -- despite living on different continents. Her story, which ran in The Times on Monday beneath the headline, "The dog with two tales" noted those similarities.

Catherine's story began this way:

There are 3,500 miles between John Grogan’s house and mine, but as he shakes my hand and leads me through the back door to his kitchen, I cannot help but be struck by some spooky parallels. For a few moments, it appears that no one else is in, but then I spy Colleen, his nine-year-old daughter, in the garden bouncing upon a giant trampoline (theirs is rectangular, ours is round). His two sons, it transpires, are in the darkened basement den, watching television, which is just where you would find my own boys when given free rein at 10am on a sunny Saturday. As the coffee brews, Jenny, John’s wife, makes a fleeting appearance to say hi and explains that she is off to the supermarket...

The United Kingdom version of Marley & Me debuts on July 3, and the Times sent Catherine over in anticipation of that release date. The package included the interview and a short excerpt (from Marley's al fresco dining experience). The article calls the book "a universal story of family life, and a publishing sensation."

To read the full story, you can follow this link:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8802-2229413,00.html

.............

Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy all of your letters, emails and postings on this website. Some I find achingly beautiful and heartfelt. This was one of them. I was so moved by it, I read it out loud to my daughter, Colleen, who said, "Aw, Dad, that's sooo sad. I feel bad for Bear and his mom and dad."

Here is that letter, from a woman named Teri who lives in the Philadelphia area and is a regular reader of my column in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

It may seem like masochism, but I had to revisit your January 2004 column in which you said your final goodby to Marley. I have been numb since Monday morning, when we had our beloved yellow lab, Bear, (a real Marley clone), put to sleep after almost 12 years of being our constant companion. It is if you have said everything that I already wanted to say. He looked and acted so much like Marley that after I read your book I could have sworn they were from the same litter.

Even after just two days without Bear. the ghost of our dear sweet lab still nips at my heels, his barks, softened and raspy with age still resonate in my ears. When I woke up the first night after we put him to sleep on Monday, my husband was downstairs, outside on the back porch, staring out into the yard. "Honey," I asked, "Why are you out here? It's 3 a.m.?" My husband replied, without looking at me, "I am letting Bear outside"...but I could see his tears in the dark shadow of the night

It is especially hard when we are alone in the house and my senses are still on alert as I can swear I feel Bear brush by my legs, hear his deep sigh as he would go to lie down or even smell his "doggy smell" which still lingers on his blanket, though I have washed it and neatly folded it beside his kennel.

A death has touched our hearts and our lives....a very different kind of void...a throbbing echo of hurt that will resonate in the walls of our home for a long time...A home that is a very quiet and sad place. God, I hope there is a doggy heaven...I really do....I surely can't imagine my life without petting that sweet guy again, kissing those velvety ears, or wrestling with him to release the 14th remote control that he destroyed or my my latest new pair of shoes. (he always knew when they were new!)

Sincerely, Teri R.


A beautiful farewell to your Bear, Teri. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

posted by John Grogan at 8:15 PM 6 comments


Letters and Such

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Before my book came out last October, I vowed to personally respond to every reader email and letter I received. After all, it was the least I could do to let someone know how much I appreciated them taking the time to reach out to me. I love receiving reader emails; it is the energy source that fuels my creativity. But my goal to answer every last one only lasted about five weeks before I became hopelessly overwhelmed. The more I answered, the more arrived in the inbox. And so I had to abandon that strategy. But I want all of you correspondents to know that I read every last one of your messages, whether you send them as emails or post them on my public message boards (which I prefer). I love hearing from you, love hearing your stories about your own saintly or devilish dogs, love hearing your family stories and, most of all, your reaction to my story.

Many of your notes touch me in a personal way, even if I can't always -- or even often -- respond personally to them. Here is one of those letters, received today from a woman in California:

Mr. Grogan,

I don't know where to start... I've never written to any editors, authors,
etc., but last night I finished reading your book Marley and Me. I started reading it on Saturday and by the time I finished it I was crying uncontrollably and trying not to get any of it on the book because I had promised to loan it to my boss; he has a yellow lab who just days ago chewed up a pair of expensive prescription glasses a night before an important meeting (my boss carefully glued them back together and wore them all scuffed up the next day) and as he told his story Monday morning I thought of Marley. I can't remember the last time a book reduced me to tears the way yours did.

Maybe it's the fact that I have a 13 year old pug who is blind and with hind legs trying to hold her up for dear life, unlike Marley she is small enough to carry and try to spare her the stairs, but it is amazing how in her efforts to shadow me she'll climb them up when I run upstairs to grab something. I was never a "pet person"; I kind of inherited her after my divorce and I can't tell you what a difference this made in my life.

My boyfriend didn't know how to react last night when he came to the room
carrying Maggie and there I was, a complete mess, feeling sorry for your
loss and my impending one, but I have to say that it also made realize that
past the eye ointment, arthritis medication, allergies and prescription
food, here's this amazing chubby creature with so many qualities I never
really stopped to count. So I thank you for that and I know my boss will
think his yellow Lab's steak stealing, candy-box devouring and glasses
chewing is just a drop in the bucket.

I enjoyed your book so much I found a few of your columns online this
morning and I have to say I love how you prompt us to stop and take a second
look at everyday life.

Thank you,
Karin M.
Los Angeles

posted by John Grogan at 1:18 PM 3 comments


On the Set of Good Morning America

Saturday, June 03, 2006



Here's a photo of Gracie and me with Diane Sawyer a few seconds before we went live on ABC's Good Morning America last month.

posted by John Grogan at 6:10 PM 7 comments


Catching up...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's been a while since I checked in here at Marley Blogland. Let me bring you up to speed.

First, I'm happy to report that Gracie and I survived our appearance May 17 on Good Morning America. Gracie behaved like Miss Manners. She didn't try to hump Diane Sawyer's knee, didn't drool on anyone, didn't knock over any of the big expensive studio cameras. In other words, she was the anti-Marley. She was a perfect lady...which is exactly why I keep saying there's no book in this dog. She's so sedate and mild-mannered, she's....boring. Her biggest transgression was quietly wandereding off the set right in the middle of my interview. It was pretty funny: The opening shot shows Diane and me chatting with Gracie right between us; the next time the shot goes wide, you see that Gracie is simply missing. AWOL. Of course, that's when Diane decides it's time to talk about Gracie, who by now is halfway across the studio, sniffing away. The cameras flip around to capture her having a good ole time off in the shadows. Jenny helped wrangle her back on stage and the interview continued. Ah, you've gotta love live television.
Gracie's favorite part of the entire New York City experience: Why, the pigeons, of course. She nearly pulled me in front of a bus after a couple of them flew right over her head. It was too much for her to resist.

I'm finally back at home after my long, and mostly eventful, spring tour, which took me from Chicago to Portland to Seattle to San Francisco to Los Angeles to Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fla., to New York and, finally, to Washington D.C. for Book Expo of America. Book Expo is the big annual publishing convention and schmoozefest, and features tens of thousands of new titles. A year ago, I attended as the author of this yet-to-be-released book called Marley & Me that showed some promise. It's fair to say I got completely lost in the crowd; my signing drew about 70 people. This year was considerably different. Marley is now in its 32nd straight week on The New York Times nonfiction list, 16 of those weeks at #1, so I got plenty of attention. As far as I could tell, my only real job duty was to drink, eat and shake hands. I did a lot of all three. Not a bad assignment! My one-hour signing was completely overwhelmed, and we had to cut the line off and turn people away, which I never like to do. I signed about 400 books before we ran out of time and I got kicked out. My publicist, Seale Ballenger, and I then carried the last two remaining boxes of books back to the HarperCollins booth where I signed and gave away those, too.

The highlight of the weekend for me was the HarperCollins party at the Smithsonian Castle, thrown by CEO Jane Friedman, who treats her authors very very well. It featured really, really good food and a really, really good jazz band, not to mentino an open bar, so I was happy. I got to hang out with my wonderful agent, Laurie Abkemeier, and got to meet my wife's all-time favorite television journalist (yeah, I kind of like him, too), Anderson Cooper.

It's good to be home and good to be back at my job at The Philadelphia Inquirer after a 10-week leave for the book tour. If you want to check out my column, you can find it at http://go.philly.com/grogan. But I warn you, some of the references are intended solely for Philadelphians. That's all for now. Ciao!

posted by John Grogan at 2:11 PM 6 comments

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