Remembering Jim Tuck
By Alejandro Grattan-Domingez
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 Jims
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
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 Bogarts 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.