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This report is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Remembering Jim Atlas Jonathan Galassi
In so many ways Jim and I lived our lives in parallel. We met in college, studied in England at the same time, married the same summer and moved to New York to pursue similar dreams, and raised our families in tandem. Typically, Jim made a story out of it – it was one of his many gifts: to shape experience into narrative. The Atlas version was that he and Anna invariably followed Susan and me in everything we did. It wasn’t true, of course: Jim was always trailblazing while the rest of us lagged prosaically behind – but it was his incorrigible gift to see our lives historically, even as we were living them, and to give their scraggly, no-count odds and ends the patina of myth.

We were two outsiders – aren’t we all? – who, when we were still boys, really, pledged allegiance to an old-fashioned faith in literature. I think both of us believed in writing as the way of making sense of things, knowing, living even, and we had the temerity and foolhardiness to pursue our commitment. Being males, we eyed each other a bit warily, each assaying his own travails and progress in relation to the other. That’s what brothers-in-arms, comrades, boon companions do. ‘Galassi!’ he’d chirp, with a certain triumphant relish not devoid of irony, when I showed up – he was the only one of my friends to call me by my surname. It must be a Midwestern habit, I told myself. Whatever the reason, he had me pinned, ...


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