John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


Back and Forth with the Boston Globe

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The thing about the journalism world, it's a pretty tiny planet. When I started at my first newspaper job in 1979 I was surrounded by a lot of other young kids just out of college. We all followed similar trajectories, starting at small dailies and moving up to bigger papers as we progressed. What that means is that, 30 years later, I know reporters and editors at just about every large paper in the country. People I worked with in Michigan and in Florida -- at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (featured prominently in the Marley & Me movie) and the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post -- are now at The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal, and on and on.

Now that I'm writing books full time and spending a good part of my life on the road, my old colleagues and I keep bumping into each other. One of them is David Beard, who worked beside me in Florida and is now at the Boston Globe, where he is editor of the paper's online edition, David is a smart and curious guy who loves to ask questions. Recently, he peppered me with a handful of them by email and this is what ran in the Globe on Sunday:

Marley author dogged with Aniston questions
January 17, 2009
By David Beard, Globe Staff

John Grogan is no Hollywood actor, but the Marley & Me author is having a Hollywood moment -- and getting teased by guy friends about his cinematic ''wife,'' Jennifer Aniston. We e-mailed back and forth with Grogan, who replied from his eastern Pennsylvania home.

Q. Can your year get any better? No. 1 movie in America for two weeks, and great reviews for your new book. How has your life changed since the Christmas premiere of Marley? Any doubletakes/weirdness at the supermarket checkout counter?

A. No, not really. The beautiful part of being a writer and not a screen actor is no one really knows or cares what you look like. Even though there is a major motion picture out there about my life and my family, we remain mostly anonymous once we get outside our immediate community.

Most of our friends and neighbors are naturally curious, so we get a lot of questions from them -- and are happy to answer them. And of course every guy I know has made the same lame joke about volunteering to help Jennifer Aniston learn about the real John Grogan. Get in line guys!

Q.When an actor has a series role, they're often identified with that role if they do a movie part or another series? Do you feel people will think you and your wife Jenny are ''just like'' Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston in the movie's broad-brush adaptation of your book?

A. That doesn't really concern me, and the reason is because I have two memoirs out there now -- Marley & Me and my new book, The Longest Trip Home -- that paint a detailed portrait of our lives in my own voice. The movie is not quite my book and not quite our real lives, and I think moviegoers, at least those who have also read or will read my books, understand that. It's a fictionalized movie inspired by my book, not a documentary. The director and screenwriters took liberties, invented characters and scenes and fudged some facts to make the story work for screen. I'm fine with that, especially because I have my books as a public record of the real story.

I should add that I think the director David Frankel made a really beautiful film that captures the emotional truths of my family's experience.

Q. I recently saw you and your wife on "The Dog Whisperer'' on TV. Looks like you two still have some obedience issues with the new dogs?

A. Yes, to the charge of being the world's most hapless dog owner, I hereby plead guilty. Cesar Milan from National Geographic Channel's The Dog Whisperer, came to our home to work with us and our female Labrador retriever Gracie, whom we got after Marley died. Gracie's basically a good, calm dog, but as Cesar pointed out, "She loves you but does not respect you." My life story.

Now we have a second Lab. As shooting of the movie was wrapping up last May, the producers presented us with one of the puppies used in shooting. His name is Woodson and he is a handful of puppy antics and mischief. In one week alone, he ate a television remote (not chewed, ATE), raided a large bag of cat food, staged hourly raids on the toilet paper rolls, and snatched my father-in-law's hearing aid and ran off with it. We're working on his canine manners, and he's making progress. But as my wife, Jenny, says on a daily basis to him: "It's a good thing you're so stinkin' cute!"

Q. Was there a point where you thought, writing Marley, that maybe your family and neighbors would be the only people buying this book? That it would be an interesting experiment, but then you'd get along with your newspaper job?

A. I like to say I don't so much pick my writing topics as they pick me. And so it was with Marley. It was just a story bubbling up from inside me, trying to get out, and I finally surrendered and began writing it down. I believed in the story and my ability to tell it, but always thought of it as a "little book," a simple story about my own ordinary life. ...

I pictured it finding an audience, but a modest one. Then it came out on The New York Times bestseller list ... I never dreamed Marley's final gift to me would be a book successful enough to allow me to quit my journalism job to focus full time on book writing, a vocation I truly love. Good dog, Marley!

Q. What's next? Studios, publishers pressuring you for Marley II?

A. Well, my new memoir, The Longest Trip Home, came out this past October, and it was a more ambitious book for me to write than Marley & Me. I poured a lot of myself into it, and I'm very proud of it. But now I'm ready for a long exhale. .... I'm looking forward to spending the next couple months with my family, recharging my batteries, clearing brush, chopping firewood, and planning my spring garden.. ...

I'm also finishing up a third illustrated children's book, and will be starting a fourth after that. And yes, there's another book for adult readers percolating, too, and I've been doing a lot of journaling and outlining about that. I'm not ready to talk about it in detail yet, but it's welling up from inside me ... Fortunately, writing does not feel like work to me. It's all good.


posted by John Grogan at 7:11 PM


Blogger Gayle said...

I graduated with a journalism and English degree in 1979 but for several reasons I won't bore you with went in another direction. I've had many regrets about it over the years and now think it's sad many cities like Tucson may have only one paper. Anyway, I've read the book but haven't seen the movie because I don't want to blubber in public. I have a collie who is more like a Saint Bernard because he is big and clumsy and loves everyone or a German Shepherd because he is very protective of me. I had been working with a dog trainer for four months. Last night was the first time I got him to sit quietly when another dog walked by. I think dogs, like people, have different personalities, and even with purebreds you just can't predict their behavior.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Writing and creativity are fun. So much fun that I forget to work.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I started at a small town weekly newspaper too just after college. One of my professors had just retired and invited me to be News Editor at his family-owned paper. It was FUN for nine months, but didn't pay nearly enough. I've given up the newspaper business for now to get a "better" job until my husband can finish college too. I still love to write, though, and am currently working on a memoir of my own. I'm using old newspaper articles to help me along the way. I don't expect the story will go great places like yours has, but it's fun to write nonetheless. I only hope I can make it half as interesting and well-written as your books. Thanks for the inspiration!

7:25 AM  
Blogger deborah said...

A human interest writer for a number of years, I graduated with a degree in Communications, minor in Journalism. Writing is a fascinating, sometimes nerve wracking endeavor-I remember writing about Louis Fuente, a noted Spanish ballet dancer in review of The Nutcracker in West Bloomfield, Michigan for the Observer & Ecentric Newspapers in Birmingham Michigan. The night before I was out at Peabody's laughing it up with a bunch of fun loving sorts and had somewhat of a dull mind the next day-interviewing was a challenge and I had to rely on previous articles to just know about this dancer-the article came out beautifully, with some great pictures I managed to pull from the public relations department. It was a lesson learned especially if your name is going on something-

2:47 PM  
Blogger Gi said...

Hi, John!
You know, it's interesting that thing that you said about knowing people when you were younger and now still having the contacts! I wonder and hope that that's gonna happen with me!
Some people from my first job I'm sure that I'll keep on touch for a very long time...
Once again, the movie was really great! You all really did a great job!
"She loves you but doesn't respect you" that statement suits me! lol Maggie loves me but she does not obey me! Only when she wants... and it's convenient for her...
I'm very happy about Gracie and Wodson... and I guess that somehow they both have a little of "Marley" inside... :) They are blessed.
Well and once again, congratulations on The Longest Trip Home... I'm going to start reading it for the second time! It's really, really good! I really think much of you, and I was 110% sure that your second book would be just briliant! But you managed to beat all my expectations! Really!
Just the other day, I was at my aunt's house and my little cousins was joking around with the neighbors, they were ringing the bell and then hidding, so then when the person would open the door, there would be no one there.
Well, my aunt saw them and called them... and they were all like "We didn't do it! I swear"; and I was thinking "It was the Cullen boys!" lol
I remember of the book in many situations! Really awsome and deserves all the success!
You are a really good writer... everything you write is good to read! Books, blog, colums...
And maybe you are that good because you put your heart on it :)
You are great! And I'm sure that I'll love your next book! I'll be always waiting! I wonder which topic will pick you now...

Regards to you and your family!

Giovana, 19
SP - Brazil

* I'm so excited about the signed book! *

2:57 PM  
Blogger shawno said...

My wife read a book called Marley and me and after she finished she told me to look into reading this book when i got a chance , I for one have never read a book since being in grammer school and that was about ten pages long, But soon after Marley and me the movie came out and like alot of people touched me deepley, Yes I read the book soon after seeing this movie and shed more tears reading the book than the movie but don't get me wrong the whole theater and I were doing pretty well there to.

My wife and I have three dogs a shar pei mugsy, a bulldog winston, and a pug named gizmo and they all seem to a have a little of Marley in them ... just a little.

To John ,your wife and children,I just wanted to let you know how much you have touched our lives with your book , My hand goes out to you for not give'in up on Marley I hope to meet you someday for a signing of you book marley and me which I will keep in my libary for a long time to come.

Shawn giles Boston,mass

4:40 PM  
Blogger shawno said...

My wife read a book called Marley and me and after she finished she told me to look into reading this book when i got a chance , I for one have never read a book since being in grammer school and that was about ten pages long, But soon after Marley and me the movie came out and like alot of people touched me deepley, Yes I read the book soon after seeing this movie and shed more tears reading the book than the movie but don't get me wrong the whole theater and I were doing pretty well there to.

My wife and I have three dogs a shar pei mugsy, a bulldog winston, and a pug named gizmo and they all seem to a have a little of Marley in them ... just a little.

To John ,your wife and children,I just wanted to let you know how much you have touched our lives with your book , My hand goes out to you for not give'in up on Marley I hope to meet you someday for a signing of you book marley and me which I will keep in my libary for a long time to come.

Shawn giles Boston,mass

4:42 PM  
Blogger Gaby said...

Hey! My name is Gabrielle and I'm Brazilian. I liked to say Happy New Year too! I read "Marley and

Me" and I falling in love from him! So all my parents wants to read the book, but I said "Buy

yourself, this book is a relic and you need to have one in your home!". I loved your story and I hope

you and all your family will be very happy!!! Sorry for the bad english, but I'm very happy to say that

I've a lucky to know a wonderful book like "Marley's"! After your book, I learned how to love my first

dog (I always had cats, and now, with 22 years old my boyfriend gave me a Little Akita Inu with

Chow Chow named Yuki. It's a Girl, that I love a lot, but it's a energic dog! Thanks a lot to tell a

beautiful story like yours. I cried a lot with Coleen's goodbye for Marley and I can't wait to see the

movie!!! A big kiss to you and all your family! P.S.- I have a blog too and I will make a review about

your book, if you don't care. I love a lot and I liked to write about this for my friends!!!d

9:11 AM  
Blogger K said...

I am almost finished reading your book (M & M)and have enjoyed it! I am not even a dog lover, but the story is great. My husband and I joke about writing a cat version. :) I'll be taking the kids to see the movie tomorrow, hopefully I won't be disappointed. We currently live in Melbourne, FL so as far as the environment/setting in the book, we totally relate to! Great read!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Gaby said...

Hello John, It's me again. Today I went to the movies with my boyfriend to watch the movie. I thought would hold until Monday, but not Resist! It may seem strange, but I cried so much. No more than when they finished the book, but I cried much. The curious thing is that when I left the movies, all the people were crying, too, all very excited! They were men, women and children touched by the beautiful story about Marley. I liked the movie, but thought it lacked so exciting scenes from the book. Even so, it was a great experience. Thanks again for that. Godspeed.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Mandrake said...

This post has been removed by the author.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Mandrake said...

Hi, I just saw the movie and I was touched by it. I could relate to losing a dog, I had a female German Shepperd for 15 years, and I was there with her at her last moments.

Now I have another two year old female German Shepperd dog which we all love very much, I could't stop thinking about her while I was watching the movie.

Now I will be reading your book once I find a place to buy it online, I've already asked at local libraries without success.

My best regards,

From Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Melvin D. Nava

11:03 PM  
Blogger K said...

OK, to put my 2cents worth in about the movie which I just saw today...I was disappointed in it. It was good, but after getting the full picture from your book, I feel it lost a lot and dramatized needlessly. I am not an avid reader, I have 3 kids for goodness sakes, I don't have the time but yours was only the second book in the past 5 months that I read with an actual ferver! I thought that if I had written the book and saw how the movie version turned out, I would've cringed! I probably would've liked it better had I not read the book. I loved what you wrote with great description, feeling, humor!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Silvia said...

John Grogan

Marley é simplesmente lindo e amavel , sua historia me amocionaou como nunca me emocionei antes na vida , li seu livro , recomendei a amigos e vi o filme que esta lindo .... Marley com certeza merece ser lembrado.....
obrigado por tudo

3:16 PM  
Blogger deppfan said...

Thanks for your great book Marley and Me-my hubby and I both loved it. We have a 12 year old jack russell terrier (terrorier) Spike (thank goodness has has mellowed somewhat with age)

I saw the movie yesterday, it was good but I agree the book is much better. I also recently finished The Longest Road Home-thanks for writing it was a great read. You do really "put yourself in all your stories". Looking forward to more books after your rest.
Pam T in Wisconsin

9:54 AM  
Blogger Norma Beishir said...

I loved the book and the movie. When we saw the movie, I couldn't leave the theater for 15 minutes--I was crying so hard, I couldn't get out of my seat. I've had similar experiences to yours with many, many animals--dogs, cats, horses, pigs, you name it. And I've lost far too many of them. I'm a writer, too--a novelist--and I've given more than a passing thought to writing about them. So far, though, I haven't taken that any further than my MySpace blog. Thank you, John, for a beautiful book.

2:12 PM  
Blogger renata said...


Sinto pelo meu inglês não ser tão bom, portanto escreverei em português. Com sorte você conseguirá alguém que lhe traduzirá.
Acabo de ler o livro e também ver o filme.
Sou brasileira, tenho 22 anos e nunca pude ter um cachorro, nem por isso deixei de amá-los. Seu livro me tocou de uma certa forma inesplicável. Amo os animais e futuramente, não muito longe, terei um amigo cão.
Gostaria de lhe dizer o quanto todos nós brasileiros amamos o seu livro e acima de tudo a sua história de vida, junto a sua família e também junto ao Marley!
Espero que eu possa passar bons momentos junto ao meu futuro amigo, assim como você nos descreveu em seu maravilhoso livro.

Boa sorte sempre.

Obrigada por compartilhar conosco essa sua magnífica história!

Renata Costa

11:06 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Hi John, You and I have a lot in common. My husband & I are from the Lehigh Valley, but we also have a home in South FL. We have a beautiful, well behaved, yellow lab, but when we were younger, we had a dalmation that made Marley look like a saint! I am not kidding. People always tell me that I should write a book, but you beat me to it! I loved your book and the movie. Congrats to you for putting it down in words. If our paths ever cross, I'll share my stories with you and you can write a sequel.

7:05 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

im not a lover of writing, i haven't studied it and i dont know a lot about it, i can say the same about dogs, the difference is i love dogs! i have a marley of my own who is also a bad dog! hahaha he's very naughty and gets away with it! my mum bought me your book last christmas when she saw the name and its changed my life, i laughed (a lot) and cried! its a masterpiece and i'm very excited to see the film. I feel like i know your Marley and i can understand the total joy he brought to you. Thank you for your book, its been inspirational in many different ways. x

8:14 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Hi John...I sent you an email but am also posting a comment:

John, I believe this may be very good for your latest puppy, Woodson, to improve or fix his hip the movie...if it worked for her, it may work for you.

good luck and I love your books...keep them coming


Stem cell transplants in dogs
Add a Comment
January 26, 2:50 PM
by Megan Drake, Philadelphia Dog Advocate Examiner
« Previous

AP photo
Medicine is advancing by leaps and bounds and veterinary medicine is no different. In fact, because the FDA has less restrictions on animal research studies compared to humans some of today's advances are further along for animals!

Take for example stem cell research. Vet-Stem, Inc. is a San Diego, CA based company that processes stem sells for canine and equine therapy. Currently, it is being used to improve orthopedic injuries and conditions like hip dysplasia (common in many dog breeds.)

The process is relatively simple. A veterinarian who has been certified in providing stem cell therapy for dogs removes about 30 grams (two tablespoons) of subcutaneous adipose (fat) tissue from the dog. It is sent overnight to Vet-Stem where it is processed to remove stem cells from the fat tissue. It is then overnighted back to your veterinarian for injection back into your dog's effected joint(s). Studies have shown an 80% success rate with clinical improvement often seen within days!

Compared to joint replacement surgery the cost of stem cell transplants is a bargain. The $2,500 price tag isn't 'bargain store pricing' but compared to $11,000 or more for joint replacement surgery it not only makes more sense financially but lets face it (and more importantly) it's a lot less invasive with minimal recovery time for Fido. To date about 3,000 horses and over 200 dogs have undergone the stem cell transplant procedure.

Vet-Stem is currently studying the efficacy of stem cell therapy in cats for kidney disease and in dogs for liver disease. They expect to be able to offer these services within two years. Vet-Stem offers a free 3 credit hour continuing education course for veterinarians interested in becoming credentialed in stem cell transplants.

For some amazing before and after pictures and videos of Allie the boxer who underwent stem cell transplant take a look here. For results of a recent study look here.

Topics: pets , dogs , Dog health , veterinary medicine , stem cell transplants

9:52 AM  
Blogger VGonçalves said...


Meu nome é Vanessa Soares Gonçalves e sou brasileira, tenho 19 anos. Acabei de ler seu livro Marley e Eu ontem a noite (29/01/09), estou completamente maravilhada!!!
Percebi o porque de tanto sucesso, ele é maravilhoso!!Ao terminar de ler os ultimos paragrafos sabendo que o final daquella linda historia estava terminando as lagrimas escorriam em meu rosto e comecei a pensar em meu cachorros e o tempo que não dedico a eles. Eles se chamam Mel - um labrador inglês, docil e companheira como ela mesma - e o outro Scoht - um poodle nº3, brincalhão e ciumento -obrigada por me abri os olhos!!!Concerteza meus filhos um dia leram esta linda história de MarleyandMe!!

Felicidades a toda a Família!!!Eles são lindo!!!Fique com Deus!!

Beijos ;-p

4:25 AM  
Blogger deppfan said...

I was visiting your page again and I forgot to add something in my previous post.

When I went to see the movie "Marley and Me" here in Madison, WI anawesome thing happened-the local humane society was taking donations and doing a small $$ promotion in the lobby. WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!! I did donate and thought it was a small way to give back for all the wealth that animals have given to me in my life.

Thanks again for your books and I am waiting fo rmore.

2:42 PM  
Blogger nicohumor said...


It was good to see that some of us with financial issues and family struggles kept the faith and stuck with journalism, with such great, canine manifestation of bright love to show for it.

Your excellent book reminded me of a goodly portion of the last 15 years of my life, and paths that I have chosen.

I tried to get into journalism, even after getting a law degree, working at several small-town newspapers in the Colorado area, but found it hard to eat anything other than a starch-filled, 10,000 calorie diet on approximately $4.00 per day, or so it seemed.

Curiously enough, my most satisfying articles were about our own Marley, a 120 pound black lab mix, who was a combination bar bouncer, chubby politician, black bear and Andy Dick. I may write dull and droll legal documents now, but I look back on those old humor columns and kinda think, in a wierd way, that I can almost feel at peace, because you have written the story that I so desperately thought needed to be told. I guess we all have our Marleys.

I'm hopping out so get the "new" book by you, though I was brought up Episcopalian (which I am told is one door to the left of Catholicism). Keep up the good work.


9:25 AM  

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