Rising Star: John Grogan, author

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A cute dog can take you for a very long walk indeed. When John Grogan published a wryly funny memoir of a wild labrador and his place in a family's life, he was an award-winning but hardly famous Philadelphia journalist. 'Marley & Me', a howling bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, tugged him fast down the canine route to celebrity.

The film, with Jennifer Aniston, opens here in March. This week, Hodder releases Grogan's second memoir, focused on his childhood near Detroit and a fractious relationship with his parents: 'The Longest Trip Home'. It is surprisingly schmaltz-free.

For all the scenes of reconciliation as illness takes its toll, his family's fervent Catholicism divides their home and sets up strains that take years to heal.