On June 15, 1914, after years of rejection by editor after editor, James Joyce's first book, The Dead, a collection of stories that would change the way literature was written, was finally published. What better way of celebrating its first centenary could there be than by bringing back memories of the late Jim Turner?
Turner was editor of Arkham House and, later, founder and editor of Golden Gryphon Press. He was also the only man on earth I would deliberately keep on the phone as many hours as I possibly could. I really enjoyed his conversation and the way he thought.
One day, Jim called and began, in his customary fashion by saying, all in a rush (he was always conscious of times winged chariot in the years that I knew him), "Listen, Swanwick, I don't have time for any of your nonsense. I just need an answer to one question and that's all."
"Hi, Jim," I said. "I just finished writing a zombie story."
"Yeah, yeah, that's nice. The reason I called --"
"It has a really good title, Jim."
"Good for it. What I want to know is --"
"Don't you want to know what the title is, Jim?"
"Oh, all right! What is it?"
"I called it 'The Dead.'"
There was a stunned silence. Then, "You cannot give the title of the single most famous story in the English language to a zombie story!"
"Well, it was really good zombie story, Jim."
Ah, me. I miss that guy. Jim was a guy who held literature in the highest esteem and gave his life to its furtherance. As did the other Jim, the guy who wrote the collection that's a hundred years old today. Tonight I'll raise a glass to the both of them.