Marley & Me author John Grogan knew he had the makings of a powerful story when 800 readers flooded the Philadelphia Inquirer with calls and emails about a column Grogan wrote about the passing of Marley, his neurotic yet infinitely lovable yellow Labrador Retriever.
A typical column might draw 30 responses.
All through Marley’s life, I entertained friends and readers at his expense, trotting him out to tell stories about his hopelessly bad behavior, says Grogan. After he died, I figured I owed it to him to tell the rest of the story, the whole story.
The whole story is more about the making of a family than a collection of memories about a beloved pet. Quickly I realized I couldn’t tell Marley’s story without telling the story of my wife and me and our intrepid journey into parenthood, says Grogan. Eventually I realized my book was not so much a dog book as the story of a family in the making and the bigger-than-life animal that helped shape it.
Marley joined the newly married Grogan and wife Jenny as a puppy and their life as well as some furniture, bits of drywall and one very expensive piece of jewelry would never be the same. Still, the endearing obedience-school failure melted the Grogans hearts at every turn. Just as he was incapable of putting the brakes on his behavior, he had no bounds on his affection and loyalty, either, says Grogan.
Today the family lives on the outskirts of Philadelphia, where Grogan continues to write for the Inquirer despite the phenomenal success of the book and the lucrative deal to make Marley & Me into a feature film. They’ve even got a new yellow Lab named Gracie. Gracie is smart, calm, easily trained and just a little boring. But then after Marley, probably any dog would be.
Posted: March 23, 2006, 5 a.m. EST