Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jim Long

It's not often you note the obituary of a character in a novel, but in this case it is possible.

James William (Jim) Long has died in Knoxville, aged 81.

As a young man, Jim was a friend of a certain Cormac McCarthy, and he is immortalised in McCarthy's masterpiece, Suttree, as J-Bone. It seems that the real experiences of McCarthy, Long et al were every bit as wild as those of Sut and J-Bone.

In recent years, Jim was a patient guide to many McCarthy scholars who dropped by present-day Knoxville to witness for themselves the various locations of scenes in the novel. I never met him, but by all accounts he was a good and entertaining man. And, in his case, his memory will truly live on, every time a reader picks up a copy of Suttree and chuckles over their misadventures.


Before his death, Jim Long was visited by Jack Neely, a highly respected local journalist from Knoxville who has written extensively in the past on Cormac McCarthy's Knoxville connections. In the interview, Jim talks about Charlie McCarthy, as Cormac then was, and the old days. It's a wonderful interview. McCarthy is reported as saying that Suttree wouldn't exist with Jim.


Bek's Books said...

Fascinating stuff - thank you! I've read Suttree several times - and some of the "scholarly" stuff about it, too. Great book.

Tom Conoboy said...

thanks for commenting. It is a fascinating little snippet of literary history.

I've added in the main blog entry a link to a brilliant article on Jim by Knoxville journalist Jack Neely. It's well worth a read.