Monday, May 25, 2009

"Marley and Me" by John Grogan

I recently finished reading “Marley & Me” by John Grogan and… really liked it.

There’s a lot that struck me in this book so I’ll start first with the minutiae and then hit the big picture.

On a not as important to the book, but interesting to me level was Grogan’s mention of natural home cleaners and organic gardening as opposed to using chemicals and pesticides. It’s certainly open for debate how much harm the artificial stuff can cause, but I think it safe to say that chemicals are not going to help the body. I also found interesting from the book the idea of the Pennsylvania country lifestyle that the family moved to from Florida. It just came across as a nice way to live.

To the larger book, though… “Marley and Me” is a vibrant story of Grogan’s personal life intertwined with his experiences with his dog. Marley gave tremendously and the parts of the book in which it came across the most were (in order for myself) the times of happiness, of heartbreak and of danger (looking back on the movie it kind of amazes me that Marley’s role as protector when Grogan’s neighbor was stabbed didn’t get into the film).

I don’t recall if it was mentioned in the movie, but I was also moved by the section of the book where Grogan describes reading a noted dog trainer discuss “the unbalanced dog” and how these animals might be best just put to sleep. Maybe it’s that I’ve had a pet with behavioral problems (not able to get along with other dogs in that case), but I think these dogs more than others can impact their owners as they’re the ones who need love the most.

Overall, it’s a great book that would likely appeal to animal lovers, but also people simply interested in the human experience as it’s just as much a story of the author’s life as it is a story about a dog. Additionally, it’s the only case I can think of where I first saw a movie and then finished the book the movie was adapted from. As is probably to be expected, the book was better, but… the movie still pretty darn good.

Lots of additional information (and a huge message board populated by dog lovers and Grogan fans) can be found at the author’s website and the link to the original Philadelphia Inquirer column about Marley can be found here.