Letters from the heart
Friday, March 06, 2009
Part of my morning routine -- after the coffee, the New York Times, and the walk with the two dogs (as you dog owners know, not necessarily in that order) -- is to log on to my email here at johngroganbooks.com and see what's new. Every day there is a fresh batch of messages from all over the world and from people of all ages and walks of life. My readers from Brazil are especially enthusiastic correspondents, so thank you Brazilians for all the warm missives.
As you might guess, I get an immense kick out of the notes and letters from children, who -- yes, it's true -- can say the darnedest things, such as the little boy who wrote to breathlessly break the news to me: "Hey, did you know someone made a movie out of your book?"
Some have already mastered the art of the hard sell, such as 11-year-old Jasmine M. in Aurora, Illinois, who lobbied: "Please can you give me a book with an autograph? It will be a dream come true because I've always wanted a book with an autograph. It would be a dream come true. Wouldn't you like to make my dream come true? Won't you feel special because you will make my dream come true?" Jasmine's letter goes on for several more paragraphs, putting the screws to me for that autograph. In case her subtlety was lost on me, she closes: "Well, that's all I want to let you know. I really want the book with the autograph. Pretty please?" Yes, Jasmine, your autograph is on the way. Uncle!
Then there are the letters that touch my heart. Here's an example that I just opened this morning, reminding me of the power of words on paper to affect lives and make friends of strangers:
Dear Mr. Grogan,
It is a rare book that can send me into convulsions of laughter out loud, but that is exactly what your book has done for me. I inherited my love for dogs (actually most animals except for spiders) from my father. Growing up, I had a border collie mix who was indeed one of those “mentally unstable dogs, and oh how we loved that dog named Buffy.
Last night while relaxing and drinking coffee at a Starbucks, I went into completely rapturous, roaring laughter while reading the “Alfresco Dining” chapter. Witnesses, I’m sure, took me for one of those “mentally unstable people”. Some though, when passing by me, smiled knowingly when they observed what I was reading.
Why is this so special that I should be writing my first letter to an author? Well you see in November, my very best friend for over 33 years was diagnosed with reoccurring breast cancer. This was not supposed to happen. We had always been there for each other since we were 16. No matter what, I knew that Anita was always in my corner. When we picked the wrong guys, we always vowed that we would be there for each other in our old age. Two old ladies with dozens of cats, (cat people too!) and dogs. You know the crazy ladies. Unfortunately, on December 3rd, my dearest friend died, leaving me to contemplate my future as one crazy old lady with cats and dogs.
In addition, while away one weekend to be with Anita, my elderly mother fell. After three years of me being her sole caregiver, I came to the realization that I could no longer keep her safe. And so she moved into a nursing home. This decision she has accepted and I am in anguish over. I am still reeling from both events. But your book has given me so much joy.
So thank you Mr. Grogan for your wonderful gift of storytelling, for sharing your lives and Marley’s with us and most important for making me genuinely laugh. I am eagerly looking forward to reading your new book.
Newport News, VA
And from suburban Chicago, here's another note I opened this week and which reminded me how universal our individual, everyday life voyages can be:
I just finished reading "The Longest Trip Home" in record time. It was like reading about my life and it touched me like no other book -- and I read a lot.
I grew up in Chicago in a Catholic family. I laughed out loud when you recounted the rituals of the mass, being an altar boy (I was a lector, but at that time women were still not allowed on the altar), and I especially related to the much dreaded task of going to confession!! As I read on, I couldn't believe the comparisons. I even worked in my church's rectory, too!
Your teen years were a lot like mine and I found myself glued to every page. ... The end of the book was no different. It touched me tremendously.
I could go on and on, but I just wanted to let you know how much your book affected me. I loaned it from the library, but plan on buying my own copy soon. It is one of those books I will treasure forever. Thank you for writing it.
P.S. Not to forget, I read Marley a few years ago. Loved it! Cried a lot! I still quote lines from that book that were so memorable to me.
To everyone who has taken the time to write, thank you. I can't begin to respond to them all, but please know that I do read nearly every one -- and they bring me a lot of joy and satisfaction. Keep 'em coming!
posted by John Grogan at 7:06 AM