Saturday, December 13, 2008
Marley and Me by Josh Grogan
"A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with an unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple thing--a walk in the wood, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taugh me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty."
While this may not be the best way to judge character, I feel that men that love dogs are generally trustworthy. After all, any good dog owner has to value simple companionship and have a lot of patience. When I met Jamie (the significant other) at the beach and we started talking about our favorite books, he cited Marley and Me as one of his. I had not heard of the book and assumed it was about Bob Marley (who the dog in the book is named after). His correcting me on the subject matter led into a story about the love of his life--a boxer named Tyson. This is when I decided that Jamie was probably a pretty good guy. After we got back from the beach, Jamie gifted me the book that we had talked about as a going away present when I headed back to Boone for school.
Grogan, who is a journalist by profession, writes in a way that I can see appealing to a broad audience, both book lovers and the book shy alike. I feel like 300 pages about man and his best friend would be too much for anyone, however, regardless of the quality of writing. That's exactly what made Marley and Me an appealing read... it wasn't just about Marley, though he certainly played an important role. The book is about a dog, but it's also about forming a new family, miscarriage, postpartum depression, the love between Grogan and his wife, and what happens when crime becomes personal. Of course, there are plenty of light hearted moments that the book touches on as well--the day Grogan decided to move his family across the country on a whim so that he could see what following a dream felt like, how children from Florida react to their first snow, and the day Grogan became a stage dad for Marley on the movie set of The Last Home Run. When Jamie told me that the book would make me laugh and it would make me cry, I told him he was full of it. In the end, he was right. I bawled.
The novel is suppose to be about "life and love with the world's worst dog." I don't know that Marley is the world's worst, but I don't know if I'd want him for a pet, regardless of all of his more endearing qualities. Marley flunked out of obedience school (as did my dog Jazz, more or less, but I was 9 when I took her so that might be a factor). He had a cage that he managed to work his way out of that was so impregnable looking that Grogan named it Alcatraz. Marley clawed and bit his way through hundreds of dollars worth of drywall not once but every time it stormed. You get the picture.
This book took me all semester to read. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, because clearly, I did. Grogan just didn't pull me in quite enough to make me work him into my schedule as often as I made time for my required class reading, I guess. My time with Marley was squeezed in between classes and before work meetings more than it was enjoyed in lengthy sittings.
While I haven't seen the movie based on the book as it hasn't been released yet, I do have to say that whoever did the casting made very different decisions than I would have (not that anybody asked me). Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson are nowhere near the Josh and Lisa that live in my head.