How did a kid whose dad lived in the poorhouse become the most successful storyteller in the world?
  • James nearly died early on the morning he was born. Somehow he survived and went on to become the bestselling author in the world.  
  • His grandmother told him something that’s been his motto for his entire writing career—“Hungry dogs run faster.”
  • When James worked as a psychiatric aide at a mental hospital in Massachusetts, he met the singer James Taylor. And the poet Robert Lowell.  
  • James’s first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, was turned down by thirty-one publishers. It then won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best first mystery.  
  • While he toiled in advertising hell, James wrote the ad jingle line “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid.”
  • As a young writer, James once watched James Baldwin and Norman Mailer square off to trade punches at a literary party.
  • He has played golf with three American presidents—and has had nine holes in one. 
  • Dolly Parton once sang “Happy Birthday” to James over the phone. She calls him J.J., for Jimmy James.
  • He wanted to write the kind of novel that would be read and reread so many times that the binding breaks and the book literally falls apart, pages scattering in the wind. James says, “I’m still working on that one.” 

So how did he wind up writing, and reading, so many books? This is a mystery story. Actually, come to think of it, quite a few people die.  

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