John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


Hitting the Bestseller List

Monday, November 03, 2008

Last week I stepped off a plane that had just brought me from Denver to Philadelphia International Airport, ending the first leg of my book tour, and when I powered up my cell phone, the message signal was glowing. On the other end were the voices of my William Morrow editor Mauro DiPreta and publisher Lisa Gallagher, and they had some very good news for me. "Number nine, my friend!" Mauro said in the message. "Number nine!" At first I thought he was reciting the lyrics to that old Beatles song (Turn me on, Deadman!), but then I figured it out. In its first week of publication, my new memoir The Longest Trip Home sold enough copies to land at #9 on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list. Yea! What made the news especially sweet was the fact that it was only a partial week of sales for the book -- which came out on a Tuesday, meaning it was available for five of the seven days.

No matter what any author may tell you about not caring about the bestseller list, being above such crass, competitive number counting, don't believe him. Every author hopes and prays for one of the 15 coveted spots, and I'm no exception. Back in October 2005, Marley & Me surprised all of us when it debuted at #10 on the Times' nonfiction bestseller list. It went on to spend the next 76 weeks there, a phenomenon I believe is safe to categorize as "once in a lifetime." But I'm thrilled to see The Longest Trip off to a good start in its own right. Thanks to everyone who picked up a copy and helped push me onto the list. I consider every week there a gift, and I take nothing for granted. But for this week at least, it feels sweet indeed. [Because of a printing delay, the list will not appear until the Sunday, Nov. 9 edition of The Times, but I pasted the online link below.]

I also learned that The Longest Trip Home in its first week landed at #11 on the Publisher's Weekly bestseller list, and at #14 on the Wall Street Journal's bestseller list. Those lists are a little tougher because they include all nonfiction, while the Times gives advice and self-help books their own list. As I drove home from the airport, my agent Laurie Abkemeier -- whom I call Super Agent 007 because she does so much seemingly all at once -- called to congratulate me and urged me to celebrate heartily. After 10 days on the road, sleeping in different hotels every night and eating all my meals out, what sounded best was to simply get home, pull on my comfiest sweatshirt and jeans, warm up some leftovers, open a beer and just put my feet up and scratch the dogs behind the ears.

Click here to see the New York Times bestseller list.

Click here to see the Publishers Weekly bestseller list.

Click here to see the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.

posted by John Grogan at 11:34 AM


Blogger marina said...

hello john
ilove marley
adorei a leitura e adimiro muito a vida de voces amo animais principalmente cães com o livro me tornei ainda mais apaixonada por esse amigos de toda uma vida
beijos e um grande abraço pra voce e janny

3:21 PM  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

I finished reading The Longest Road Home yesterday - the first anniversary of my mother's passing. Reading your book was very cathartic - and it also relieved me of some of the guilt over my own children's lack of religious fervor. If you and your siblings could be blase about your religion when your parents were so strong in their faith I can stop thinking I should have sent my children to Catholic school, I should have made them say the rosary at night, I should have insisted on more family prayer time - or at least SOME family prayer time. Your parents DID all that. They were exemplary models of good parents - and you didn't care.
I really appreciate you sharing your life story with us. You are a great writer - and the books was fantastic. Thank you.
Now I need to go email my seven siblings and four children and strongly suggest they read it too.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

I finished reading The Longest Road Home yesterday - the first anniversary of my mother's passing. Reading your book was very cathartic - and it also relieved me of some of the guilt over my own children's lack of religious fervor. If you and your siblings could be blase about your religion when your parents were so strong in their faith I can stop thinking I should have sent my children to Catholic school, I should have made them say the rosary at night, I should have insisted on more family prayer time - or at least SOME family prayer time. Your parents DID all that. They were exemplary models of good parents - and you didn't care.
I really appreciate you sharing your life story with us. You are a great writer - and the books was fantastic. Thank you.
Now I need to go email my seven siblings and four children and strongly suggest they read it too.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

Congrats John! That is quite an accomplishment! Enjoy your time at home!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Thank you. I think you managed to get me fired today. I started your book on Sunday and of course I couldn't put it down, not even at work. I tried hiding it under piles of documents but I think when I started crying out loud, blowing my nose and snorting, well, it kind of gave it all away. Marley & Me almost broke up my marriage, all the laughing, crying, and sobbing I did in bed was not making the other half very happy. Especially since none of my "antics" involved him. In any event, I've been blessed to have found unconditional love with several four legged creatures and also doubly blessed with parents who cared and loved for their children and hoped and prayed that only the best would befall them. Mom died 3 years ago but dad is going to be 97 in February. Your book makes me appreciate even more the short amount of time I have left with him. As a matter of fact, I'm going to leave early today and visit with him and tell him, again, how much I love him. Thank you for your stories; they are so much more than just words.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Garota Observadora said...

Hi, John!!!
I´m sorry for write about Marley here, in your blog!
Sorry my English too... it isn´t very good... I´m from Brazil and i´m a BIG Marley´s fan, fan of your book, your family, your history... My father gave a book to me as a gift and I loved so much... Your history with Jenny and Mrley seems like my history with my husband and our dogs... we have a femme version of Marley... a Basset Hound, Cléo. God bless you and your family! I´m very excited to see the movie!!!

9:01 AM  
Blogger firstmonsoon said...

Dear John,
I just got done reading 'Marley and Me', a little late, considering you've another book out :) No worries, I'm saving up for that one.

Life and love with the world's worst dog? No way! He reminds me so much of my own sweethearts. I grew up with two labs myself, Beauty and her son Cuty (yes, I named them when I was about six. Cuty's other siblings were Naughty, Shiny, Sweety and Leo, who was claimed before I could name him.)
I'll probably tell you their story another day, because even though your pictures of Marley at retirement age look startlingly like Cuty at 10, and even though they loved the mangoes in our garden too and made it a point to eat them every summer, and were finally laid to rest under those very mango trees when their time came, it's our current four-legged family member whose character reminds me so much of Marley!
Sunny-daag, as I like to call him, is a Golden Retriever. Not quite the gigantic Lab that Marley must have been, but he's the sunniest, ditziest, blondest, drooliest, sheddiest dog ever. We don't have as productive a mango tree in our new house, but Sunny still managed to get his paws on a huge papaya and devour it down to the last seed in blissful contentment on our front door mat. He likes chasing funny noises in a patch of vines that border our front wall, apparently unaware that the toad that made the sound in the first place is now sitting by his back paws and not in the bushes anymore. And the first time in the book that you describe Marley's eat-and-seek game in the book - I couldn't stop laughing, cos that was my Sunn-dawg all over! His favourite target is my brother's socks. He adores the boy, and the moment he's home from school and the socks come off, Sunny picks up one of them and dutifully trots behind my brother, who couldn't care less what became of the sock. It drives my mom wild, though, having to fish out socks in all states of griminess from the most unexpected places. Daag also likes pen-caps, food scraps, banana peels and strangely enough, pieces of cement and chunks of stone. The stone especially he likes - whether it be gravel or a brick so large he has trouble getting even his huge jaws around them.. he carries those to the doormat every time, and gnaws on them until he's bored. Just like Marley, he begins the head-bob wiggle routine when he has something concealed in his mouth, and acts all coy, ducking his head every time I reach for his snout, looking up shyly at me from under veiled lids. The coyness is dropped the moment I pry his jaws open and retrieve whichever random object is lodged at the back of his throat, after which he waits for me to decide if the object was legitimately his (such as the aforementioned gravel) or not (such as used earbuds).
He also likes carrying kittens around. My uncle, whom we used to live next door to, runs a 24-hour cat-chow joint, and as a result is adopted by several neighbourhood strays. One of them decided that his house was way to crowded for her litter and birthed them inside Sunny's puppy-kennel, which he'd outgrown in a couple of months. She disappeared when the kittens were barely a month old. To our immense surprise, our 7 month old male puppy was not only excited about his new unguarded friends (that part was no surprise actually.. Sunny will play with anything that seems animate and willing) but gave them such high priority that when he was let out in the mornings to go potty, he'd check on the kittens first. In the beginning, the four little scraps of fur barely as big as Sunny's snout would hiss and spit and rattle the kennel's grill door in an attempt to scare the giant, panting monster away, but somewhere along the line, it got to the point where we'd see Sunny lying happily in the sun, four kittens sprawled all over him and snuggling into his fur. They probably thought he was Mommy, because they attempted to suckle at the most inconvenient of places. He bore it all with his big loopy grin. In fact, he seemed to think he was Mommy too, and took a fancy to carrying the kittens around by the scruff of their necks. He'd be sitting outside with the kitties, and decide he wanted to go in.. so he'd simply pick up his favourite new toy and carry it around with him..! I think a couple of times he actually carried them about with their entire head inside his mouth, at which point the kittens would understandably complain, but for the most part he was extremely gentle. Probably that retriever instinct.
The kittens being male, all disappeared one by one until a last orange one remained. The flooring of that particular house (yes, we move often!) was a sort of yellow, so that the dog, the cat and the yellow mosaic flooring were all of the same colour. It allowed for quite a few incidents of stepped-on tails! I strongly suspect that my dog grew up believing he was half cat and half human, and my cat believed he was half dog and half something wild.

You hadn't written much about Marley making noises.. I'm guessing it's a purely Goldie trait, because Sunny, I swear, attempts to talk all the time. He fails miserably at English, but we all now know the difference between his 'Good morning! Let me out, I want to pee!' moan, his "I'm bored, you're hopeless.." *flump*, his "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! What's that! I wanna see!" grunts, not to mention "feed me!", "I wanna play!" and "Please stop bugging me now, I want to sleep.."
He has us well and truly trained.

For our part - we trained him at home and he's never been through any rigorous obedience training. He will not heel, choker collar or not. Beauty and Cuty used to knaw through their leashes, sometimes for each other, and Sunny invariably manages to wiggle his collar off. Pulling him back with the leash when he leaps forward isno good, because as soon as you proceed ahead of him, he sits very firmly down and refuses to budge until the collar slips off over his head if you pull hard enough. Other rather unconventional commands he responds to are "Minnimaus!" (which means he is to go look for his favourite toy, a stuffed Minnie-mouse that used to be mine. He usually finds it with unerring accuracy, whether it's on the floor at his level or perched up on top of a cupboard well out of the line of sight) and "Pussycat", whereupon he frantically begins to look for one in the direction pointed to. This one especially is useful for distracting him when he's showing unwanted attention to an unfortunate guest, but usually results in chaos.
He hates being bathed. He looks at me as though I'm putting him through some kind of abuse, is unresponsive and un-waggy until I tell him he's done and bring him his towel. And then oh, what complete joy! He shakes his wet fur all over me, grabs the towel and runs, barely letting me get him dry so that he doesn't get muddy all over again. I have a sneaky suspicion that he hates the process of being bathed, but he loves being clean.

My retriever's idea of 'fetch' is to run and fetch the ball/stone/stick/mango/coconut/invisible-and-imaginary-chucked-object is pretty much the same as yours' - he'll fetch it or catch it in mid-air, and then it's your turn to get it back from him. He seems to feel wounded every time he's commanded to 'drop' the ball if he thinks we're serious. Else, he retreats to his doormat, tail joyfully in the air, gives the ball a few chews, places it between his paws and puts his head down. Walk a couple of steps closer to him, however, and he picks it up instantly and is off running again!

I could write you pages about my love-daag (and he answers to any name I call him by).. reading about Marley reminds of him so much. The gale-force tail, the running-tackle when his name is called, and how he maneuvers his way into my bedroom so I can trail my arm over the side of my bed and rest it on his head. Sunny has a neighbourhood fan club that comes by every evening to pet him through the grill gate, calling him 'Sunny-boy' and 'Adonis' (because someone thought he was pretty). I doubt Sunny'd make a good guard dog - he sleeps sounder than I do, and is an unbelievable coward. I've seen him barking at empty sweet-boxes and flying leaves in the dark, terrified and convinced that they're dangerous objects. Besides, he's just too ditzy. I'd say that's definitely one way Marley wasn't the world's worst dog, although I can think of many, many more reasons.

Sunny's six and a half years old this winter, and I know he's getting old.. I think golden retrievers are supposed to live even shorter lives than labs do. I'm on the other side of the world from him now, and suffering from terrible symptoms of doggie-withdrawal - I literally go nuts every time I see a dog, no less labs and golden retrievers that just cry out to be petted. I really wish I could see him now, and I know you'll understand just what it feels like..
Here are some of (very few) pictures I have of Sunny.. he's quite camera-shy.

And last.. thank you so much for your book :)

10:30 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

Hi John, I just finished listening to a unabridged "Flyaway" version of "Bad Dogs Have More Fun". It was not only witty, but poignant and very thought provoking. You certainly have a knack for keeping me from wanting to lay the story down...and when forced to do so, very much look forward to continuing..All in all you're really know how to "authorize"!
Concerning your episode about the SPCA, I'd like your input. Are all SPCA's so poorly run, or is it just the one in Delaware? I watch Animal Planet on TV and certainly the Huston SPCA and others shown seem to be exemplary! How about the ASPCA? After listening to your comments, I decided, I'm not going to donate to any SPCA's any more. Is that valid? or what do you advise? I want to make donations to worthwhile causes, but now I'm skeptical of any SPCA's until I hear from you. Thank you so much..I look forward to your "The Longest Road Home" which I haven't gotten to yet. Most Sincerely, Connie

5:17 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Being a blog geek, I was pleased to discover this blog after just starting Marley and Me. I have brought home a Lab puppy to raise for service dog work and am pleased to discover that his behaviour is 'normal', though he's maybe too high energy to be a service dog. Time will tell! Now back to the book...

PS My first dog was born at the same time as Marley and we had our kids at the same time so it's fun to read about someone going through the same things exactly in the early/mid '90s.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Jamie/Moira said...

I just finished listening to Marley and Me. One should not drive while listening to the final chapters of that book. It was beautiful, funny and broke my heart. I am off to download The Longest Road Home and I think I know the next movie I want to go see.

Thank you.
Jamie in NorCal

1:31 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hey john,
i am doing a book report on your book and need some help. we have to ask a couple of questions about you and your experience with the book. so...when you had marley, did you ever want to get rid of him after the obedience classes and all the hard stuff? Also, when you saw Marley's dad did you and your wife regret getting him? Thanks so much and if you could write back on the blog?

3:16 PM  
Blogger Rosemary Johansson said...

Hi John,
I'm sure you don't remember me but I worked for the PA House & you contacted me about a 95 year old constituent. Occasionally, we spoke back & forth. I'm not going to tell you how I can relate to the Longest Trip Home, you heard that but thanks.

Anyway, when Marley & Me came out I sent you the book with a sase and you signed. Anyway I can do again?

Oh what fun you would have now in Philly following the Fumo circus of events. Where are you when we need you!

Thanks, Ro

6:58 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

hey john,
I am doing a book report on Marley and Me and i have to ask a few questions. ok...So when you were kicked out of obedience classes, did you ever regret getting him and then think about giving him away? Also, was your wife serious about getting rid of marley? Finally, did you and your wife regret getting marley after you saw his dad?
Thanks and I get credit if you write back and i really want to know the answers, so if you could write back soon that would be helpful. Thanks

7:21 PM  
Blogger taina vieira said...

hello jhon!
i from brazil!
Adorei seu livro, devo admitir que chorei muito ao ler o final, e claro que o devorei em uma semana!
tenho dois lindos yorks a mine de 3 meses e o mickey de 5 meses e so tenho eles agora porque minha cadelinha uma outra york de 4 meses se afogou em minha piscina(pra mim uma tragedia, pois foi eu q a encontrei), mas espero que eu tenha essa longa caminhada assim como voce teve, espero que meus "filhos" fiquem tambem bem velinhos!
Muito obrigada por expressar esse amor canino por nos!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Homesteader said...

Hi John,
A happy new year to you and your love ones.

I just finished reading your new book “The Longest Trip Home” and felt compelled to write this before the holidays end and I get too busy again.

Please understand whatever I say here is not meant in anyway to be critical or judgmental of you, your family, or anyone else. I write just to share my thoughts on what you have written.
1. Personal spiritual renewal
I’m really happy a book like this has become a best seller. I think this means many people are still paying attention to the subject of “personal spiritual renewal” and still taking it seriously.
I’m not sure if you will agree (since you never used this term in your book) but to me this is exactly what the book is all about: your own spiritual renewal (or spiritual awakening or whatever you want to call it) brought about by the death of your father.
Sad to say, for most of us an experience like this (spiritual renewal) usually comes only in the aftermath of a personal tragedy such as death of a love one. I often wish this was not the case but based on my own experiences and from what I have seen of the experiences of others, a spiritual reawakening can only be meaningful when it happens under such circumstances.

2. The father as spiritual head of the family
One thing you highlighted in your book which I think is very important especially in our highly secularized world today is: the role and responsibility of the father as the spiritual head of his family. I’m not sure if this was you intention but the stories you tell of your own father clearly show that he knew how important this role is and he tried (with the help of your mother) his best to perform this responsibility. The fact that his (and your mother’s) efforts were misunderstood or misinterpreted or whatever you want to call it) by his own children did not really matter. What matters is he tried.
Based on my own experience (and I think you may agree with me here) I know for a fact many fathers today have failed (or are failing) their children on such an important role and responsibility. Many of us are not really in a position to perform this responsibility. How can we lead our families and children spiritually when we cannot even direct our selves spiritually? But surely this is not an excuse. As you pointed in your book (based on your father’s example) it’s probably better to have tried and be misunderstood than to never have never tried at all.

3. Religion vs. spirituality
I am also a Catholic and have been one from birth. When I was young I accepted all teachings of the Catholic Church blindly. As I grew older I came to realize that real faith also means also having the ability to doubt. This may sound inconsistent to some but I have come to believe that faith which does not allow any room for doubts and criticism is not faith but may be fanaticism.

A good book allows a reader to identify with anyone of the characters in it. For myself I can identify, at various points in my life with yourself, your brothers, your father, your wife, your children and some others. At present I can most strongly identify with anyone of the pall bearers (the men who belong to the prayer group).
From how you describe them they have also (each in their own way) undergone “the longest trip home.”
Thanks and God bless!
P.S. I’ve also read “Marley and Me” and love it. I live in Hong Kong and can’t wait for the movie to come to town.


Bayani S. Cruz
T: +852 93003751

12:29 AM  

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