The first day of Kit Reed’s advanced fiction class, sitting in the yellow Victorian house I would come to know simply as “Lawn Avenue,” was my first time for so many things. I had never been taught by a professor in her own home, for example, and I remember I couldn’t stop looking at it all. I had never been in a home full of that much art, or with walls painted white or black, or in rooms full of chrome furniture, Lucite lamps, and mirrors— there was an offhand glamour to it all that I loved from the start. This was the kind of home you hoped professors at Wesleyan University had, or at least I did, and I sat nervously, excited, aware that I was lucky to be there as she listed off her rules for the class. We had to turn in 20 pages every other week—she ran the class like a boot camp—and she told us never to call her before noon, as she was writing and wouldn’t answer. Another first: I’d never had a professor tell me I could call at all, and I don’t know that any of them ever did tell me, besides her. It never occurred to me to call my professors outside of class. Her willingness to accept a call was an openness to another kind of connection and conversation with us, one that, for many of us, would go on for the rest of the time we knew her. The art in that house was from all over the world, and each piece had a story, either about a trip or a friend or a family member, or all three. I remember praising a painting in the hall by the stairs, and she told me a long story about it as the rest of the class looked on, hesitating—I could see they were wondering whether they had to listen. I didn’t care. I was fascinated because she was the first person I knew who knew artists well enough that she could look at each piece of art and think of a friend, or of her husband, the artist and film scholar Joe Reed, a professor of English and American studies, a legend in his own right. I wrote an enormous amount, including a story that became part of my first novel, eventually published more than a decade later. She believed you had to get a lot of pages out to get to the good stuff of writing, and that the reason we had to write so much for her was that “it was a long paper