Jim was never a hands-on mentor to me. Other writers fulfilled that role. Rather, his sheer presence in my life helped take the mythology out of writing, but none of the magic. Here was this blind-in-one-eye, bulbous man, who once compared himself to a massive beetle, at my dinner table shoving food into his mouth with greasy fingers. Great literature felt close enough to touch, and you didn’t even have to wash your hands first.