John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


Top Dog in the United Kingdom

Sunday, July 30, 2006

As I mentioned in earlier entries, Marley & Me was released in Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, and I spent a week in London and Dublin promoting it (and doing my part to keep Guinness in the black). In its first week out, Marley jumped to #1 on the bestseller lists in Ireland and hunkered in at #4 in Great Britain. The next week it rose to #2 in Britain and stayed there in Week 3, too. This past week, Lisa Highton, my very kind and attentive publisher at Hodder & Stoughton, sent me flowers and a note with the subject line: "Marley & Me Triumphs." "Our beloved dog is at Number One and we love him more than ever," Lisa wrote. And I couldn't disagree...I love him more than ever, too.

So this past week was a good one for the old dog.... the #1 hardcover nonfiction book in America (New York Times and Publisher's Weekly), Ireland and the United Kingdom.

I had been holding my breath about the overseas market, not sure how the famously petcentric English would take to my story about a couple of hapless dog owners and their very flawed pooch. The strong sales there are telling me that there is something universal in the human-canine bond, something that transcends culture and geography and nationality. And that there is common ground in how we humans can't always control our pets but love them just the same.

The Brits gave us the British Invasion in the '60s. Marley's paying them back 40 years later with the Slobber Invasion. Guess we Yanks got the better end of that deal!

posted by John Grogan at 5:33 PM 14 comments

The Celebrity Factor

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On Sunday, the newspaper where I work, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ran an essay I wrote about the surprise success of Marley & Me. One of my editors thought it would be interesting to tell the story behind the story, so to speak. Not just the glamour of having a bestseller, but some of the trade-offs, as well. To tell how the book came about, how I found an agent and a publisher...and how my story of a family and its nutty, out-of-control dog took off from there to (as of this writing) have more than 2 million copies in print. Writing this piece was somewhat cathartic for me. I've been running pretty much nonstop since the book came out in October, and I hadn't really paused to consider what it all meant to me -- and to my family. This piece allowed me to try to do that.

Here is the link:

Meanwhile, I speak, read from the book and sign copies tomorrow (Wednesday, July 19) at 7 p.m. in downtown Philadelphia at the Borders bookstore a 1 S. Broad Street (at Chestnut). So if you're in the area, come on out and say hi!

posted by John Grogan at 10:24 AM 14 comments

Marley Arrives in the United Kingdom

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I've just returned from a whirlwind week in the United Kingdom, promoting the UK edition of Marley & Me, which was released there July 3. I flew out of Newark on the night of July 1 and arrived in London the next morning, a Sunday, which I spent catching up on my jet lag and walking around my very charming West London neighborhood running along -- I'm not making this up -- Marylebone Street. And yes, they pronounce it like "Marley Bone." It seemed fitting.

I spent most of the week doing radio and television interviews and visiting bookstores to meet booksellers and sign their stock of Marley books. In the evenings, I was mostly free to explore, sample pints of the local ale and read the local newspapers.

It was a rough week for the Brits -- they got knocked out of the World Cup, watched Andy Murray's incredible run come to a disapointing end at Wimbledon, heard David Beckham resign in tears as captain of the England football team, broiled through a stifling heat wave and, on July 7, paused in respectful silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the terrorist underground bombings -- a somber rememberance that brought back vivid memories for this post-9/11 American.

Late in the week, I flew to Dublin for a 24-hour visit to do interviews with the Irish media and visit some bookstores. The last time I was in Dublin was with Jenny in 1991 (described in the book). The city then seemed depressed and dour...and very quiet. I had heard it had changed as the Celtic Tiger economy took off, but I wasn't prepared for just how dramatically it had changed. The place was hopping, vibrant. Live music was everywhere...young people filled the sidewalks...street entertainers drew huge crowds...and, or course, the Guinness flowed freely. My hotel was in the Temple Bar nightclub district, and I had a great time.

My publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, did a great job drumming up interest in Marley & Me (and making me feel incredibly welcome and at home). I learned that some things are universal, and the way humans love their dogs is one of them. The British and Irish and Australians seemed no different to me than Americans on that front. They told me the funny stories about the mischief their dogs caused, and they shared the pain of saying goodbye to their pets, too.

My visit seemed to pay off. Marley & Me is #1 on the Ireland bestseller list and #2 on The Times of London bestseller list. Meanwhile back at home, Marley popped back up to #1 on The New York Times nonfiction list this week and will be at #1 again next week.

England and Ireland were great, but it's good to be home. I'm looking forward to a sleepy August with my family. The purple coneflower and cosmos are in bloom, the pears and apples are swelling on the trees, the garlic ready to be harvested, the zebra grass nearly as tall as I am. There's been record amounts of rain so everything is emerald green..come to think of it, not unlike the Irish countryside. Summer in's a lovely time.

Over and out for now.... John

posted by John Grogan at 6:39 PM 5 comments

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