Vol. 10, No. 4 Fall, 2001

Note: the format of the online version of the Society's newsletter has changed with this issue to more closely reflect the printed newsletter.

Four-day Elderhostel Program to be held November 6-10 at Lincoln Trail College with Eleventh Annual James Jones Literary Society Symposium

The James Jones Literary Society will hold its 11th annual symposium at Lincoln Trail College (LTC) in Jones's hometown of Robinson, Illinois, in conjunction with a four-day Elderhostel program.

"Big World-Small Town: A Look Back at the '40s" will examine Jones's work on World War II and the effects of that war on the returning veteran, in addition to other literature and events of the 1940s.

James Jones, ca. 1951

The Elderhostel program culminates with the Saturday, Nov. 10, James Jones Symposium, held annually by the James Jones Literary Society. While the Elderhostel program is for persons 55 or older and requires registration, admission to the Saturday symposium is free and open to the public.

Registration fees for the Elderhostel includes overnight accommodations, meals and local transportation. Local residents may enroll for the same fee, minus the cost of overnight accommodations. For an additional fee, Elderhostel participants are also welcome to attend optional dinners on Friday and Saturday evening. These dinners are sponsored by the James Jones Literary Society and are related to the symposium.

For information about scheduled events and enrollment costs for the Elderhostel, please contact Dick Grogg at (877) 273-4554, write to him at the Southeastern Illinois Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 277, Flora, IL 62839, e-mail him at dgrogg@accessus.net, or go directly to the Elderhostel catalogue.

The annual symposium's return to Robinson is particularly significant this year because it corresponds with what would have been James Jones's 80th birthday, the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which Jones witnessed from where he was stationed at Schofield Barracks, and the 50th anniversary of the publication of From Here To Eternity, which he wrote when he returned to Robinson after his discharge from the Army. Once again, the Illinois Humanities Council is supporting the symposium with a grant to help cover expenses.

Former Handy Writers' Colony member John Bowers, whose 1971 book The Colony is a personal memoir about his time at the Colony in 1952-53, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium, discussing his experiences in those years and their influence on him and his writing career. Bowers has written seven other books, including a biography of Civil War General Stonewall Jackson.

Immediately following Bowers' talk, a panel of former Colony members Don Sackrider, Jon Shirota and Bowers and Lowney Handy's friend Helen Howe will discuss their recollections and perspectives of the Colony.

Shirota, the last Colony member in residence, has written an as-yet unpublished play, "The Last Retreat," that will be read at the Friday night board dinner at Quail Creek Country Club. The play is also included in Writings From The Handy Colony, a new book by Tales Press scheduled to be published just before the symposium as a companion piece to James Jones And The Handy Writers' Colony (Southern Illinois Press).

Both books were edited by Howe, Sackrider and George Hendrick, retired University of Illinois English professor and first Society president. Hendrick, a recognized Carl Sandburg expert, has edited two volumes of Sandburg's previously unpublished poems, and will lecture during the Elderhostel on the poet's work in the 1940s.

Bowers, Hendricks, Howe, Sackrider, Shirota, and other Jones scholars and symposium guests will be available for book signings Saturday afternoon at LTC. The contact person at the college for more information is Danelle Hevron at (618) 544-8657, ext. 1123, or hevron@iecc.cc.il.us by e-mail.

After a Tuesday night orientation to Robinson and the Elderhostel program, past Society president and Wilkes University English professor Mike Lennon will kick off the first session of the Elderhostel program with a screening of his documentary "James Jones: From Reville to Taps" on Wednesday morning, Nov. 7.

Lennon will speak later about the fiction of Norman Mailer and James Jones. He also will report on the success of several of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship winners and runners-up since the award was first given nine years ago.

The award is given annually by the Society to continue James Jones's practice of supporting and encouraging young writers. The award was originally $2,000. The winner of the 2000 award, Stephen Phillip Policoff, was the first to receive an increased amount of $5,000.

The Elderhostel program also includes a presentation on the 1940s by WWII veterans, retired Wright State history professors and Society board members Carl Becker and Robert Thobaben,. There will also be screenings of movie versions of Jones's novels, with analysis by Southern Illinois University English and Film professor and Society board member Tony Williams. James Jones's daughter Kaylie Jones will conduct a writing workshop on Friday afternoon.

Elderhostel participants will be given a tour of the site of the Handy Writers' Colony near Marshall and the house nearby that Jones had built after the publication of From Here To Eternity."

Note: June 22, 2002, has been confirmed for the 2002 James Jones Symposium. American University in Paris will host the symposium and assist in the planning.

"The Wisdom of a Serious Redneck": Norman Mailer Remembers Jones at the 1999 JJLS Symposium

[The following remarks were made by the novelist Norman Mailer at the 1999 JJLS Symposium held on Long Island. Mailer first met Jones in New York in 1952 and visited the Handy Colony later that year. The piece was transcribed by the editor and edited by Mike Lennon, former Society president and Mailer's friend and bibliographer.]

I've been thinking about Jim a fair amount the past couple of days. I remember that the first time I heard about From Here to Eternity I was living up in Vermont -- Putney, Vermont -- and it was a couple of years after The Naked and the Dead came out, and I was having a terrible time with my second novel. It was called Barbary Shore. I just never knew whether I was writing it or if some occult force had taken possession of me and was writing it, or whether I was under the complete influence of a dear friend named Jean Malaquais, an old-line Marxist who was filling my head with raging Marxist thought (and I hardly will call it ideology because he hated ideology).

Anyway, I will give you a sense of it: I was in a marriage that wasn't doing too well, and I was in a peculiar sort of feverish high from having a novel come out that was successful which -- as I once said in a conversation with Mike Lennon -- was like being shot out of a cannon. And a long time before they talked about identity problems, I had one, and I didn't quite know what it was. But I had the funny feeling that there was a well-known person out there named Norman Mailer and that to meet him, he had to meet me first. And I felt as if I were a secretary or an assistant to myself. I had my new self, and I hated it, I was totally unprepared for it.

One of the things you learn about writing as you write is that you very often know things you didn't know you knew, so that relatively innocent people can write relatively sophisticated books because there's all the knowledge that you didn't express verbally, that you don't talk about with your friends, that comes out in a most astonishing form. You find yourself writing things, making sentences that are just incredible. You sort of say to yourself: "I never knew I knew that." And then you think about it, and ask, "Is it true?" and think "It seems true." It's as if it came from someone else. And you go on with it and live with it and you keep referring to maybe twenty lines that you wrote over forty years ago.

All of this is a preface to tell you my mood at the time, which was one of great uneasiness and uncertainty about myself, and who I was, and where I was, and how I had written that book, and whether I could write any more books - when word came to me that there was a book at Scribner's. This was in 1951 (or late in 1950) and Scribner's was saying, "We have a book that's gonna wipe The Naked and the Dead off the map"! And I thought - oooh! Then came a very nice letter from Jones's editor, Burroughs Mitchell, which said we have the pleasure to send this book to you, and we hope you like it, and hope you'll send us a blurb and I said, "Yeah I'll read it, I'll give them a blurb!"

And so the book came -- you know in those days many writers were succeeding earlier in life. Bill Styron succeeded early; Jones did; and I did. We almost thought of ourselves more as talented athletes than writers. We probably would have preferred to be talented athletes, but there we were. We had that same fundamental love of competitiveness. We were drawn to our fellow competitors, but -- there was no question -- we each had to be the best.

So I sat down and read this book and I want to tell you, I truly suffered. I suffered because it was too damn good. I was very happy whenever I came across somewhere I could say, "Oh, I could do that better." On the other hand, there were any number of things where I thought "Oh, he knows more about that than I do." So it was an extraordinary experience reading that book. I remember at a certain point I thought, "Yes, he probably read The Naked and the Dead and is saying a lot to me." For instance, he had a poker game in From Here to Eternity, that was much better and more detailed and much richer than the poker game in The Naked and the Dead, which is one way authors have of speaking to one another.

So I read it and, it's hard to say, I loved it, I hated it. I finally sent a blurb, and I recall it went something like this: "It's a big fist of a book, with powerful virtues and serious faults," and then something something something, which with everything said, was "It is a major work." And they printed it between two blurbs, Scribner's did, I remember this, one of which said, "From Here to Eternity is the finest war novel to come out." And the other blurb said, "Get out!" So it was my introduction to mass media in a new way. Those guys can cut off your fingernails, your knuckles, your fingers, your wrist, they can take it off up to here; it depends how badly they want to get you--but they can get you.

In the meantime, Jones had this huge success when the book came out, and I was envious in a visceral way, because he knew how to use success, he enjoyed it, he was flamboyant. I didn't know anything about him, I hadn't met him: but he wasn't afraid to be photographed in the Indian silver with blue stones (he loved that), and he was macho, he was a boxer, he was tough. I thought to myself: "He's tougher than I am (grrr)!" I was absolutely locked on him.

I learned a lot about the play of emotion. There was a part of me that whistled in the dark, and said, "It's all right, he wrote a very good book; it's probably better than The Naked and the Dead." I must tell you now, in this point of my literary existence, I think it was better than The Naked and the Dead, because it went into the taproot of Army experience. I had learned a lot in the Army from a couple of years in it, and it had had a huge effect on me, and I'd been able to write a pretty good novel with it. But it hadn't been my life in the way it had been for Jones. He hadn't had a successful career life as an adolescent and a young man, so he went into that Regular Army. That was going to be his life; that was going to be his existence. It wasn't something he was going to get out of necessarily. And so his book, I felt, went deeper into the nature of what it was like to be a soldier. So I thought, yes, it was a better book than I had written. And going back to that word "competitive," I thought, well, I've got to do better than him, I'll do better than him yet. But I was whistling in the dark, because there I was stuck on my second novel.

So I'll give you another setting: my wife broke up with me. We broke up with each other. I think that's the gentlemanly (and ladylike) way to put it. And there I was in New York, about a year later, in a cold water flat, which had had heat added very recently, way over on the Lower East Side, a grim little place. One day I got a call from Vance Bourjaily. And he said, "Would you like to Meet James Jones? Jim is in town." And I said, sure.

This is the one time today I'm going to read from something, because about three weeks ago, in relation to something else, I wrote a small memoir about one moment with Vance Bourjaily, and in the course of that, I realized I was writing about James Jones as well. And it covers that period. So I will read that one section about how I met Jim Jones, through Vance Bourjaily:

"Vance had such smooth, pleasant features that I was always surprised how many sides there were to him. I promise you he could be classy, conniving, generous, gutsy, efficient, or romantic. He was a roulette of possibilities, and probably is still. Variety lasts in those who are lucky enough to have it. So I could tell you a dozen stories, but will restrict myself to one. Back around 1952, when my generation was still getting to know each other, I had the next thing to a cold water flat, down on Pitt Street in the Lower East Side of New York. And one afternoon Vance called, and said he was with James Jones, who had just hit town, and would I like to meet him. They came over.

"In those days Jones was an avatar of energy. The success of From Here to Eternity had given him huge stuff. His presence could certainly fill any small room. The variety of his small-town personality was not only canny and overbearing, but also as warm as your best buddy. It felt like a great new kid had just moved onto the block. How rich was his simplicity. His was the wisdom of - a serious redneck. No doubt about it, he made Vance and me feel pale, establishmentarian, and much too modest by comparison.

"But we all got drunk. That equaled us out. By twilight we were the best of friends. And on the rise of this good musketeer spirit, three good writers ready to tackle all the ugly asinine powers above, we got candid with each other. Jones asked, 'Vance, did you ever cheat on your wife?' Now you have to know how cool Vance was in those days. He never showed his hand. I had known him for over a year, but would never have dreamed of asking such a question. His wife Tina was beautiful, remote in a lovely way, and about as inscrutable as Vance.

"We had, however, forged a mood. Vance's belief in those days, and it may still be active, was that there were few things as unattractive and disturbing as being the man to kill a good mood. So he looked up, and a glint of divine or diabolical light came into his eye, and he said: 'Yes! Whenever and wherever I can!' And this being the lost years of rampant male authority (it feels like a millennium ago), we all roared, and hit another belt of booze, and felt for a goodly half-hour like the swashbucklers we were not. Not quite. 'Thanks. I was wondering,' said Jim Jones, 'how I'd feel if I was married.'"

So that was how I met him. And we took to each other. I can't speak for Jim, but I liked him much more than I thought I would. I sort of half-loved the guy as a buddy. It was a funny thing, but it just seemed to make everything better that I liked him that much.

Time went on. About a year later - or maybe it was the same year - I went out to visit the Colony with Adele Morales, with whom I was living. And I had an extraordinary time there because the Colony was - how to put it? - was such a production. There was so much going on at the Colony. There was Jones who was now kind of like the pirate captain of a renegade company. And then there was Lowney Handy, who was the worst and toughest drill sergeant-major you could ever hope to encounter. She had all the kids all reading, and the only thing they had to do was to copy for an hour from other authors, which a lot of people outside the Colony sneered at. They said it was a ridiculous way to become a writer.

But I wasn't convinced, because I remember Nelson Algren saying to me when I complained that one of the students had copied Hemingway too much, Algren said, "No, no, no, you know when they're beginning they really have to come under a powerful influence, and if they're good enough they grow through the influence, and learn a lot from the influence, and go on to do their own stuff. But sometimes in the beginning they really need to have that influence." Anyway, Lowney absolutely believed in that and she insisted on it. And she made all the kids who were there do it -- the men, I should say. They were, as I recall, from 20 to 30, maybe some as old as 35. Generally, they were young, and they had a marvelous relationship with Jones, because he was their leader. But at the same time, they were young and they were very competitive with him.

And Jones had this intense relation with Lowney that consisted mainly of incredible, prodigious fights. When they disagreed, they were like two animals. It wasn't sexual, it wasn't carnal, it was mental. "How dare you have an idea that's different from my idea!" The were two extraordinarily powerful people always fighting each other all the time, all the time.

And in the quieter moments, I remember just two things about the Colony. One is that there was a wonderful trampoline there. I remember getting drunk and getting on that trampoline for the first time in my life. And I was bouncing up and down, up and down like a two-year-old - I'd discovered a new type of Nirvana. And of course Jones, who was pretty athletic, was doing all sorts of somersaults and backflips and what have you.

And the only other thing about the Colony I remember, particularly, is Jones saying to me once: "You know, I'm beginning to have a new feeling about officers. I always used to hate them, but now I'm giving them a hand. It's not that easy to be an officer. I'm like one here now, and I just tell you, there's more to it than we give them credit for." And that was that.


James Jones at home in Marshall, Illinois, 1955


From Eternity to Django

An Interview with James Jones

by John Hopper

From Metronome magazine, July 1960

[Jones had a lifelong enthusiasm for jazz, as reflected in his 1955 short story "The King." James moved to Paris in 1958 expressly to research and write a novel on the Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Jones had become fascinated with Reinhardt from recordings while still in Illinois, and his Reinhardt novel was to be called No Peace I Find. In the end, Jones did indeed "chuck the whole business" - not merely to enjoy Paris, but to write The Thin Red Line. This interview is of interest not only for Jones's comments on jazz, but also for his opinions on the Beat writers. -ed.]

When you write a literary column for a Paris daily, it is not unusual to receive from time to time an invitation to meet famous authors, The event may be a signature party, at which the author autographs copes of a new book. Coffee is sometimes served, or tea, depending, usually, upon the author's nationality. When I received a card for a reception in honor of James Jones, I wasn't surprised to find the tables crowded with somewhat harder liquids. Wines, aperitifs and champagne were in abundance to supply the scores of people who filled the two rooms of the apartment. The occasion was the launching of the French edition of Jones's The Pistol. Through the cigarette smog, I met Mr. Jones, a Paris resident for some time now. The novelist spoke much and glowingly of gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, who has achieved the status of a god in French jazz circles. I next saw Jones perched on a stool in the Village, and American rendezvous on the Left Bank. He seemed disinclined to talk about Django or jazz at that time. A few days later, in his apartment, with the help of several beers and a fine view of the Seine, Mr. Jones was considerably more voluble.

HOPPER: I understand you've picked Django as the subject for a novel. Why?

JONES: Back in Illinois, I happened to hear two sides of Django's St. Louis Blues and Honeysuckle Rose. Two of the things he had done with Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter. Then I read a book him by Charles Delauney, the French jazz critic, and this got me in even deeper. About that time, I began to correspond with a young French drummer. He was intrigued by my interest in the guitarist. You knew, there was a part in From Here to Eternity that had to do with Django. Well, he had to read that, and his interest stimulated my own ideas.

I arrived in France in September '58 and began talking with some of Django's friends, people who had known him throughout his lifetime. They told me all sorts of conflicting things about him. Some said he was irresponsible, others that he was simply being himself, the artist. Whether good or bad, all the opinion were violent. Although some of the French were angry because he had remained in France during the war, I have never heard anyone even suggest that he was a collaborator. There is even the story that the Resistance had worked out an intricate code system using his records, but that has never been proven either.

HOPPER: How exactly do you picture Django as the subject of your novel?

JONES: I don't picture him so much as a subject as an object. By this I mean that the other main characters regard Reinhardt as a "person of desire," as a person they try to utilize to their own ends, when it is he, in the end, who dominates them all. He begins as their object to be used and turned, but in fact, because of his own strengths, in part, he remains untouched. The others find that they are attempting to control the uncontrollable. Like many artists, my character's desires are really rather simple: he merely wants to get drunk, sleep with women, play his music. His needs are not so intellectually complicated as are those of the others.

HOPPER: Your novel, in other words, is not going to be a strictly factual treatment of the man's life?

JONES: No, it will not be biographical in that sense. Everybody thinks of him as a very romantic character. That he certainly was, forming quintets, then disappearing for months to go off with gypsies. But he must have been more than all that. I want to get to the base of it. At the core of the man himself, devoid of all the myths that surround him.

HOPPER: Do you have many of his records?

JONES: I have ... oh ... about 168 sides of his. In fact, it's probably the largest private collection around.

HOPPER: Will your book, because it deals with a jazz theme, be a departure from your usual style of writing?

JONES: I might try a few innovations. In a sense, I'm always experimenting. But in the essential, there will be no break between the new book and the others. It will deal with jazzmen and jazz aficionados, as I like to call the real devotees.

HOPPER: What relation do you find between jazz and writing?

JONES: All artists, whether jazzmen or writers, are essentially anarchists and iconoclasts.

HOPPER: Do you mean "anarchist" in the sense of individualism?

JONES: Yes. Something like that, but I prefer the word "anarchist." Not with a capital A, of course - nothing political. But I think jazz began with this sort of idea. And it is this connection which I see between the writer and the jazzman that intrigues me.

HOPPER: Anarchy has an essentially destructive meaning. This suggests its opposite, the creative element. Do you feel that jazz is being as creative today as when it first began?

JONES: It's true I know more about traditional types than musical types, but even in the traditional forms something is sadly lacking today. I am a great admirer of [Louis] Armstrong, for instance, but the things he as done lately are not up to his former level. He's given up a lot that made him great in the twenties. He's become more of a public relations sort of thing, a damned good one for the United States, that I'll admit. He's accomplished more than half the diplomats.

But to speak of Dixieland today, you certainly find far less creativity there than in progressive jazz. Perhaps due to the fact that most of the performers are third-generation at least. Too far from the source to do very much other than repeat their elders. Certainly progressive jazz, when well played, is the place to find original and fresh ideas.

HOPPER: Now, there are many jazzmen living in Paris. Some even have their own clubs, like Mezz Mezzrow's Trois Mailletz. What do you think of Mezz who prides himself on being a traditionalist?

JONES: I know Mezzrow. Nice, personally. But I never get the feeling that there is much creatively being done when I go to his club. I think it must be very tough to avoid repeating yourself in jazz, whether repeating phrases, or becoming victim of a style. Again, it's this anarchistic style that's important. It's much easier as a writer to avoid repetition. Time is on your side. You can rewrite. When a performer is up there on the bandstand, everything he says must be immediate. He either produces or he doesn't.

HOPPER: Do you think there has been any change in the audience for jazz today as compared to the twenties?

JONES: Socially, the direction is in the other way today. The older players worked in whorehouses, riverboats, small noisy clubs. Their audience was very often a Negro one. Today in America, as everywhere, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain one's individualism, with all the intricacies that society and government have taken. The audience, which once felt a simple allegiance for the State, now tends to worship it. The result is that many practicing artists want to be accepted by this changing audience. They want respectability. They become victims of their audience, which in many respects, as I said, has broadened and cheapened. The "greats" avoid all this. Certainly no one can say that Bird's artistry suffered because of any audience. But there are many modern musicians, I feel, who cater too much to this mass trend. Getz is one, Mulligan another. They want respectability.

HOPPER: Many writers of the younger generation owe more or less of an allegiance to the Beat Generation school. Much of what makes jazz "go," they have tried to incorporate into their writing. Examples are people like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Gergory Corso. What is your reaction to this kind of literary treatment with such deep jazz undertones?

JONES: Well, of course, they differ very much from my own approach to writing. I think that much of the language indigenous to jazz is necessarily a part of the immediacy of jazz itself. Expressions popular among the Harlem hipsters, the real origin of so much of jazz talk, only last a short time. Partly this is due to the performers and aficionados who deliberately change their language so as to keep it a private thing. Now, in writing, dialogue is only an approximation, at best. This attempt by the Beatniks to record a special type of language limits and marks their work for a certain definite period. Scott Fitzgerald gave a legitimate picture of the Jazz Age, a picture that will last, because he did not depend strictly on reproducing the "hip talk" of the time, phrases he knew would change and be forgotten, thus marking his work as something as limited and fading as a photographic reproduction. But Fitzgerald was an artist. The writing of the Beatniks is attempting to be too much of an emotional release for frustrations. For nameless problems.

HOPPER: Isn't this a legitimate field of art?

JONES: Of course it is a legitimate field of art. All art in a way is the working out of emotional frustrations. But the Beatniks, in being rebellious, confuse the discipline imposed by society by way of governmental laws, sexual mores, and the like, with the discipline imposed by the artist upon his work. The rules society crams down our throats today are more than the proper field of art; they should be rebelled against. But not at the expense of art.

HOPPER: Where do you go to hear jazz in Paris?

JONES: I've been to all the spots. But I prefer a place called Haines and Gabby, actually a restaurant, up in Montmarte. Do you know it?


JONES: It's ... let's see. (Looking at a map of Paris, he traces the maze of little streets that creep around and up the hill of Montmartre.) It's in Rue Manuel. That's it. Run by an American who married a French girl. Nice place for spare ribs, southern-fried chicken, and the like. It's also a rendezvous for jazzmen after they finish at the other places. Go there. It would be a good place to do an article on, if Haines will let you.

Outside, a barge sounded its horn. Jones moved to the window and watched the barge with keen interest. It was getting too close to the quay, he told me, with childlike enthusiasm. If he has come to Paris to write that book on Django, he certainly chose a rough city. Only a writer with an iron discipline could resist the urge to chuck the whole business - typewriter, notes, carbons, all the rest - to enjoy Paris in the spring.


Schedule for Elderhostel Program and Annual James Jones Symposium, Robinson, Illinois

November 6 - 10, 2001

Details and times are subject to change.


Afternoon arrival with evening welcome session at Robinson Best Western.


7:30-8:45 a.m.

Breakfast at Toffee House


Board bus to Lincoln Trail College


An Introduction to James Jones: "From Reveille to Taps" documentary by Dr. J. Michael Lennon, past James Jones Literary Society president and Wilkes (PA) University English professor


Overview of '40s culture and adjustment of returning soldiers (Ray Elliott with Charlie Dukes, WWII combat veteran from the European Theater who was taken prisoner in late 1945 and was one of the last documented POWS to reach Allied lines after the war. After being detained in a Russian-controlled camp at Luckenwald, German, Dukes escaped and reached the Elbe River on May 27, 1945, 20 days after the official end of the war)

11:40-12:45 p.m.

Lunch at Lincoln Trail College


Introduction to James Jones's early writing life and publication of "From Here to Eternity" with Helen Howe, wife of Jones's childhood friend and who taught the short stories, and Don Sackrider, Jones friend and second member of the Handy Writers' Colony


Viewing of the film "From Here to Eternity." Discussion to follow.


Dinner at Toffee House


Winery Visit (Tour & Tasting)


7:30-8:45 a.m.

Breakfast at Toffee House


Board bus to Marshall

9:00-1:10 p.m.

Field trip to Marshall, Illinois, to tour former Handy Writers' Colony and house James Jones had built on the grounds after the 1951 publication of "From Here to Eternity." Trip includes early lunch at historic Archer House. Tour may be accompanied by Earl Turner, brother of Lowney Handy, and Dr. Jim Turner, Lowney's nephew. (Lowney ran the Colony and was Jones's writing mentor and lover.)


WWII Presentation (War Without Mercy) on the American-Japanese war by WWII Veterans of the South Pacific and retired Wright State University (Ohio) history professors Carl Becker & Bob Thobaben


Review of the music of the '40s with Dr. Don Runyon, retired Lincoln Trail College music, and drama professor. Sing-along of '40s music with Runyon, Joan Craig and others


Dinner at Toffee House


View "Some Came Running" with discussion to follow on Friday.

FRIDAY, Nov. 9

7:30-8:45 a.m.

Breakfast at Toffee House


Tour of Robinson, including a look at newspapers from the era, and other locations depicted in "Some Came Running" with Helen Howe and other James Jones friends.


Study of other significant writers of the '40s, including James Jones, Norman Mailer and Carl Sandburg, featuring Mailer and Jones scholar Mike Lennon; and Jones and Carl Sandburg scholar Dr. George Hendrick, retired University of Illinois English professor and first James Jones Literary Society president.

11:40-12:45 p.m.

Lunch at Lincoln Trail College


Discussion of films made from James Jones's novels with Southern Illinois University film professor Tony Williams


Writers' workshop with author and daughter of James Jones, Kaylie Jones


Cocktail hour at Quail Creek Country Club (former PGA tour site)


JJLS Board Dinner at country club (Pre-registration and payment required.)


Dramatic reading of former Colony member Jon Shirota's play, "The Last Retreat," inspired by the Handy Writers' Colony (optional)


9:00-11:30 a.m.

James Jones Symposium


Lunch at Lincoln Trail College

1:00-9:00 p.m.

Symposium and Banquet (optional w/additional cost for banquet.)



Saturday, Nov. 10:

8-8:50 a.m.

Registration at LTC


Annual Society Board Business Meeting


Awards Recognition --

  • First Novel Fellowship Award
  • George Hendrick Research Award
  • James Jones Creative Writing Award for Crawford County students
  • LTC Scholarships


Update on First Novel Fellowship Award winners and runner-ups: Mike Lennon


James Jones's 80th birthday: Kaylie Jones (Jones's daughter)

Pearl Harbor Attack: former Marine Sgt. Dick Lewis (an eyewitness of the first Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who was wounded on Ford Island).

Publication of "From Here To Eternity": Helen Howe (friend of Jones and the Handys) and Don Sackrider (friend of Jones and second member of the Colony).

Noon-1:00 p.m.

Lunch at the LTC cafeteria

Book signings for authors (John Bowers, George Hendrick, Helen Howe, Kaylie Jones, Jon Shirota, Don Sackrider)

1:00-1:50 p.m.

John Bowers (former Colony member, author of "The Colony" and other books) address and insights about the Colony


Former Colony members/friends panel discussion with John Bowers, Helen Howe, Jon Shirota and Don Sackrider on the Colony's effectiveness and value of teaching creative writing


Lowney Handy brother Earl Turner and nephew Jim Turner discuss the Turner family's involvement with the Colony. George Hendrick, Helen Howe and Don Sackrider talk about their recent books ("James Jones and the Handy Writers' Colony" and "Writings from the Handy Colony")


Cocktail hour at the Elks


Symposium Dinner (Pre-registration and payment required.)


Songs from the '40s by The Sunshine Sisters

SUNDAY, Nov.11

9:00 a.m.

Post-symposium board meeting at Maxine Zwermann's home.


2002 James Jones

Creative Writing Award Announced

The James Jones Literary Society will award $500 for the best short story entry following the listed requirements. The Society wishes to honor James Jones for his own short stories collected in The Ice-Cream Headache and encourage local residents with an interest in creative writing.


1. An original story of at least 1500 words in length may be submitted to Diane Reed at the Eagleton Learning Resource Center at Lincoln Trail College. The story must be typed and have a cover page. Author's name should appear only on the cover page, not on the story's manuscript.

2. Those wishing to submit a story for consideration of this award must be: a high school senior graduating in spring 2002 who will attend LTC at least part-time during the next academic year; a current student at LTC; or a graduate of LTC.

3. The applicant for this award cannot have been published professionally (meaning received payment), or have been a previous winner.

4. The story must be submitted no later than June 3, 2002.

Cover pages may be obtained from the following sources: Eagleton Learning Resource Center at Lincoln Trail College, any area high school English teacher, any area high school guidance counselor; or the Robinson Public Library.

All entries will be coded so that the reading committee does not know the identity of the writers until a winner has been selected. The reading committee will consist of members of the JJLS, current or former instructors at LTC, and/or LTC Foundation members.

*The JJLS reserves the right not to award the stated amount should there be an insufficient number of entries for a fair judgment or no entry is judged acceptable.


The Film 'Pearl Harbor'

vs. From Here to Eternity

From the New York Times, May 25, 2001

"The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II has inspired a splendid movie, full of vivid performances and unforgettable scenes, a movie that uses the coming of war as a backdrop for individual stories of love, ambition, heroism and betrayal. The name of that movie is 'From Here to Eternity.'

"'Pearl Harbor,' the noisy, expensive and very long new blockbuster from Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, steals an occasional glance in the direction of 'Eternity,' Fred Zinnemann's durable 1953 melodrama, adapted from James Jones's sprawling best seller. A couple smooches in front of pounding Pacific surf, though they don't actually roll around in it, as did Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. Military police officers break up a barroom fight. And since the movie is in ripe, lustrous color, the sun dresses and Hawaiian shirts look just fabulous. But 'Pearl Harbor' has as little interest in character as it does, ultimately, in history."


The James Jones First Novel Fellowship

The James Jones Literary Society announces the eleventh annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship to be awarded to an American author of a first novel in progress. Novellas and collections of closely linked short stories may also be considered for the competition. The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones was himself the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends and admirers have established this award of $5,000 to continue this tradition in his name.


Kaylie Jones, his daughter and a novelist; Kevin Heisler, a writer; J. Michael Lennon, professor of English at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


The competition is open to United States citizens who have not previously published a novel. Manuscripts may be submitted for publication simultaneously, but the Society must be notified of acceptance elsewhere. Officers of the James Jones Literary Society are not eligible for the award.

Entry Fees:

$15 check/money order, payable to Wilkes University, must accompany each entry.

Manuscript Guidelines:

A two page (maximum) outline of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted typed and double-spaced. Name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) must be on the title page, but nowhere else on the manuscript or outline. Pages should be numbered. If a manuscript is selected for the final round, the author will be asked to send up to 50 additional pages. Submissions will be acknowledged only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped postcard. No manuscripts will be returned. Failure to comply with manuscript guidelines may disqualify entries.


Entries are to be sent to The James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o Department of English, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, and postmarked no later than March 1, 2002. The winner will be notified by September 1, 2002. Winners must accept the award at the James Jones Literary Society Conference held each fall, usually in early November. Transportation funding will be provided.


Jones Answers "The Proust Questionnaire"


[In June 6, 1963 issue of the Paris newspaper L'Express, James Jones answered a series of questions sometimes known as the "Proust Questionnaire." The questionnaire began as a popular parlor game in France and elsewhere in the 1880s, and was famously answered at ages 13 and 20 by the novelist Marcel Proust. The item was kindly provided and translated by Jones's daughter, Kaylie Jones. -ed.]


What for you is abject misery?


Where would you like to live?

--In Paris, if it were an island in the Caribbean.

Your ideal of earthly happiness?

--Living in question number two with my wife and my daughter.

What faults do you feel most indulgent towards?

--The discussions of drunkards.

Which fictional heroes do you like most?

--Fabrice del Dongo and Julien Sorel.

Which historical personage do you admire most?


What about real-life heroines?

--My wife and my daughter, because they're forced to put up with me.

Your favorite fictional heroine?

--Jacob Barns, the hero of Hemingway's novel, "The Sun Also Rises," who during WWI suffered the sad fate of Abelard.

Your favorite painter?

--Gustave Moreau! Yes! Yes! (big laugh)

Your favorite musician?


Your favorite character trait in a man?


Your favorite character trait in a woman?

--Even more sensitivity.

Your favorite virtue?


Your favorite pastime?

--Scuba diving.

Who would you like to be?

--My wife, because she's married to me.

What is your strongest character trait?


What do you appreciate most in your friends?


What is your biggest character defect?


What is your dream of happiness?

--To spend my life in bed with my wife, without every being tired or worrying about having to work.

What would be your greatest tragedy?

--To be Jacob Barns (see above).

What would you like to be?

--A writer, because I'm a masochist.

What is your favorite color?

--I'm not really interested in things like that. Maybe green, the green of trees in spring.

Is there a flower that you love?

--Woman, woman, woman.

Your favorite bird?


Your favorite prose authors?

--I'm too modest to say.

Your favorite poets?

--Robert Frost. Villon.

Who are your real-life heroes?

--They don't exist.

And your real-life heroines?

--The wives of soldiers.

Your favorite names?

--I don't understand the question.

Historical personages you despise the most?

--The husbands of the wives of soldiers.

Which military action do you admire most?

--The signing of any armistice.

Which reform do you admire most?

--The abolition of war. But it hasn't happened yet!

Which gift of nature would you like to possess?

--To exist on this planet without desires and without a body.

How would you like to die?

--Without pain, and in complete lucidity.

What is your present state of mind?

--I'm ecstatic, but I'm hung over.

What's your motto?

--Not to suffer, and to cause no suffering.

FLAK Magazine Reviews the Paperback

Reissue of From Here to Eternity

 "The giants are few and far between. Works like Dante's "Inferno," Joyce's "Ulysses," Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men" all represent the output of men who have stood toe-to-toe with life and tried, through the telling of one enormous, ambitious tale, to tell the full story of humanity.

"From Here to Eternity" is, in many ways, a mostly forgotten member of this thinly populated but towering tribe.

"If the mark of a truly great author is the hewing of a new cosmos from the insubstantial dross of the imagination, James Jones is among the best we've seen."

--James Norton

From: http://www.flakmag.com/books/eternity.html



Vol. 10, No. 4,
Fall, 2001

Thomas J. Wood

Editorial Advisory Board
Dwight Connelly
Kevin Heisler
Richard King
Michael Mullen

The James Jones Society Newsletter is published quarterly to keep members and interested parties apprised of activities, projects and upcoming events of the Society; to promote public interest and academic research in the works of James Jones; and to celebrate his memory and legacy.

Submissions of essays, features, anecdotes, photographs, etc., that pertain to author James Jones may be sent to the editor for publication consideration. Every attempt will be made to return material, if requested upon submission. Material may be edited for length, clarity and accuracy. Send submissions to:

Thomas J. Wood
Archives/Special Collections, LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
P.O. Box 19243
Springfield, IL, 62794-9423

Writers guidelines available upon request and online.

The James Jones Literary Society

Online information about the James Jones First Novel Fellowship