Speaking at Lehigh University
Saturday, February 14, 2009
When it comes to writing from home, I'm a bit quirky. If there are family members in the house, I have a hard time concentrating, even if they make a point of leaving me alone in a room with the door closed. Just knowing they're pacing around on the other side of the house throws me off my game. If everyone clears out to give me time alone, the silence kills me. All I can think is, "Everyone's out having fun except me." That's a way of saying: I don't have a lot of luck writing from home. I began my new book, The Longest Trip Home, immediately after quitting my job as a columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer in February 2007. Soon I realized I needed to find a place I could go to write, a place that was quiet but was not stultifying. A place with its own positive energy.
That's when I found Linderman Library at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about a 20-minute drive from my house. The library is a beautiful old stone structure that was recently renovated top to bottom. With its soaring ceilings, stone fireplaces, wrought-iron balconies and leaded-glass windows, it looked like something out of a Harry Potter movie. More importantly, it had the kind of creative energy I was looking for. It was a place meant for quiet study, and yet I could be surrounded by students and teachers deep in their own work. Their energy was contagious. That's where I ended up writing most of The Longest Trip Home, sitting with my laptop at a big oak table. It suited me well, and I would stay for hours at a time, lost in my story.
So when Lehigh University asked me to come speak on campus about my books and memoir writing, how could I refuse? I owe them one. My talk will be at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday, February 19, in the Packard Lab auditorium on campus and is open free to the public. I'll sign books afterward for anyone who wants. So if you live in the area and want to come out, I'd love to say hi. The more the merrier.
Here is part of Lehigh University's announcement on its website at www.lehigh.edu (click on "News"):
John Grogan, the author of the phenomenally successful Marley and Me will speak on “Memoir, Truth and Writing” when he comes to Lehigh on Thursday, Feb. 19. Grogan’s talk, which is being presented by the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries, will be at 4:30 p.m. in Packard Lab Auditorium, Room 101.
The talk is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book signing.
The international best-selling Marley and Me was the inspiration for the recent movie that starred Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson and which topped the box office charts after it debuted during the 2008 holiday season. It also spawned a series of children’s books based on the lovable. but ill-behaved dog that changed Grogan’s life.
His new book, The Longest Trip Home, is another personal memoir, but with a unique Lehigh twist: Grogan wrote most of it in Linderman Library, which he acknowledges in the book.
That distinction, notes Sue Cady, “almost puts Linderman in the same class as the New York Public Library, which has a dedicated room for writers.” Cady, director of administration and planning for Library and Technology Services, is organizing Grogan’s visit to Lehigh.
The Longest Trip Home chronicles Grogan’s search for identity, intertwined with his devoutly Catholic upbringing in suburban Detroit. It draws on the same well-honed sense of humor and storytelling ability that was so evident in Marley and Me, and has been praised by the New York Times for its “deeply felt humanity and pathos.”
posted by John Grogan at 12:03 PM