Remembering Jim Tuck
By Alejandro Grattan-Domingez

     The Colony Reporter (Oct. 11-17) did such a fine job of summing up the life and career of Jim Tuck, there is little I can add to the official record. Hence, what follows are my personal impressions of one of the finest writers and most admirable men it has ever been my good fortune to know.
     Yet, as with many exceptional men, Jim had amusing idiosyncracies which only made him all the more interesting.
     For such an eloquent man, he was given to much gesticulating, a habit which often seemed at cross-purposes with what he was saying. One had to fight off the impulse to both watch and listen to him; in self-defense I occasionally employed Jim’s same sweeping gestures, hoping such a maneuver would call attention to his semaphore style of conversing. He never even noticed!
     His writing often came armed with razor-wire, and he was fearless in puncturing pompous, self-inflated types, either here or on the international scene. Yet in person, he was the sweetest of souls, suffering bores and braggarts with the benevolent patience of a Mahatma Ghandi.
     He was a life-long liberal and proud of it; yet among his many admirers were dozens of staunch conservatives. Jim had the knack of being able to disagree with someone without ever becoming disagreeable. Not having that same talent in such ample quantity, I secretly envied him this commendable trait.
     As a writer he had a built-in “thermostat” which did not allow him to pander to his public. He never played the “sympathy card.” Yet as a person, he was considered the ultmate “soft-touch.”
     In the 15 years I knew Jim, I never heard him boast about anything. In an area muddled with megalomaniacs, Jim stood out like a monument to modesty. One learned of his past achievements only from other people, of his future aspirations only in discovering they had come to fruition.
     Though he was primarily an essayist and author (over 1500 articles sold, and seven published books), he was a masterful book reviewer. He possessed in full measure all the essential skills: an awesome knowledge of literature, (which enabled him to make fascinating comparisons), enormous erudition, keen artistic insights, impeccable taste and the rare ability to write interestingly about even the most abysmally boring of books. Not for Jim “Jeez, this is a real page-turner.” He had left behind such a simplistic approach back in grade school.
     In personal style, he was something of an existentialist. An example: shortly after meeting him, I asked what the most traumatic event of his life had been (my rather feckless way of getting to know him). Without hesitating, he answered, “When they closed down the Stork Club in New York.” This oblique reply ranks with Bogart’s in Casablanca when, in answer to why he has come to the Moroccan city, says, “I came for the waters.” Told there are no waters in Casablanca, he blithely replies, “I was misinformed.” Like many intriguing men, (and unlike most bores), Jim knew the value of never disclosing too much about himself.
     An elegant writer, a class act, and a pal for all seasons. Like many at Lakeside, I will never forget him. In honor of his 11 years of splendid columns for the Ojo, and as a tribute to his wonderful wife, MariCruz, we shall continue to proudly carry his name on the masthead of this, the publication which for more than a decade he endowed with so much of his own professional prestige.