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Monday, January 05, 2009

FULL BOOK REVIEW: Marley and Me.

I finished reading this book. It’s called “Marley and me” by John Grogan. Believe it or not, this is just my 3rd book ("above 300 page" category) I successfully read cover to cover since January 2008. I tend to read often but struggled to finish most books. This book is special to me as it’s in a nutshell about “life and love of a Labrador” which I’m coincidentally also a Proud Owner of one (mine’s Golden Labrador, “Pluto”). Hence, my immediate bond with the book as I can easily imagined his descriptions about Marley’s mischievous actions.

The book I’m holding is a Special UK edition (1st 2006 edition) with 8 pages of photos of Marley (16 photos total throughout the book) in the middle of the book, better paper quality bigger text and an appended column reprinted from “Philadelphia Inquirer, January 6 2004” at the end of the book. I bought it at Popular Bookstore with 30% discount. I’m disappointed to say that Current 2007 “2nd US edition” COSTS THE SAME as my edition (BEFORE DISCOUNT @ RM32.90).

But it came with 1) poorer paper quality, 2) Only 2 Marley photos throughout the book, 3) Smaller fonts. 4) No “Philadelphia Inquirer” article found in my book.

I read the first 110 page in 1 sitting, something I RARELY done. For the record, 1 read 1 ppm (page per minute). The book is so good that I look forward to it each time I pick it up. The book with intense appeal it tenderly follows its subject from sunrise to sunset, from the Hilarious puppy stage (laughed at first half of the book) to the heartbreaking farewell (so much so that my tears flowed freely at the end of the book).

Here’s an interesting extract of the book well worth reading it’s in page 30 to 32 in my book

“Marley was growing at a furious pace. Like one of those amazing jungle vines that can cover a house in hours, he was expanding exponentially in all directions. Each day he was a little longer, a little wider, a little taller, a little heavier. He was 21 pounds when I brought him home and within weeks was up to 50. His cute little puppy head that I so easily cradled in one hand as I drove him home that first night has rapidly morphed into something resembling the shape and heft of a blacksmith’s anvil.

His paws were enormous, his flanks already rippled with muscle and his chest almost as broad as a bulldozer. His slip of a puppy tail was becoming as thick and powerful as an otter’s.

What a tail it was, every last object in our house that was at knee level or below was knocked asunder by Marley’s wildly wagging weapon. He cleared coffee tables, scattered magazines… sent beer bottles and wineglasses flying. He even cracked a pane in the French door. Gradually every item that was not bolted down migrated to higher ground safely above the sweep of his swinging mallet… Our friends with children would visit and marvel “Your house already babyproofed!”

Marley didn’t actually wag his tail. He more wagged his whole body, starting with his front shoulder and working backward. He was like a canine version of slinky. We swore there were no bones inside him, just one big, elastic muscle. Jenny began calling him “Mr. Wiggles”.

And in no time did he wiggle more than when he had something in his mouth. His reaction to any situation was the same: grab the nearest shoe, pillow or pencil – really, any item will do – and run with it. Some little voice in his head seemed to be whispering to him, “Go ahead! Pick it up! Drool over it! Run!”.

Some of his objects he grabbed were small enough to conceal, and this especially pleased him – he seemed to think he was getting away with something. But Marley would never made it as a poker player. When he had something to hide, he could not mask his glee. He was always on the rambunctious side, but then there was those moments when he would explode into a manic sort of hyperdrive, as if some invisible prankster had just goosed him. His body will quiver, his head will bob from side to side, and his entire rear end would swing in a sort of spastic dance. We called it the “Marly Mambo”.

“All right, what have you got this time?” I’d say and as I approached he would begin evasive action, wagging his way around the room, hips sashaying, head flailing up and down like a whinnying filly’s so overjoyed with his forbidden prize he could not contain himself. When I would finally cornered and pry open his jaws, I never came up empty-handed. Always, there was something he had plucked out of the trash or off the floor or, as he got taller, right off the dining room table. Paper towels, wadded Kleenex, grocery receipts, wine corks, paper clips, chess pieces, bottle caps… One day I pried open his jaws and peered in to find my paycheck plastered to the roof of his mouth.”.

The author, John Grogan tells a simple story of one family’s life, a mostly typical family. But he does it so beautifully and the reader (yours truly included) is drawn in by his “voice” until you become part of his tale, shaking your head at Marley, laughing at his wits, delighting in his high points and worrying when things aren’t going well. You’ll understand the gift that Marley was to his family.

Grogan has crafted a loving but unsentimental memory of his dog and what he meant to him, his wife and children. That’s his gift to us, this book I’m holding. This is a book with intense but narrow appeal that it’s strictly limited to anyone who has ever had, known or wanted a dog.

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