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2005-09-12 - 6:54 p.m.

I took just one class with this guy, in the spring semester of 1996. He's a fiery little Irish man, five-foot-six maybe, graying hair, reddish face, liked to curse and talk about the different ways of ingesting barbituates and amphetamines (as described in "On the Road"). And I just met him for the first time since then, in the hallway here where I went to college, where I'm going over my plan for my first class here.

"Dr. Fitzpatrick?" I said, hand extended, when I saw him in the hallway. "Vince!" he said, "Call me Vince, please!" We talked about books (he recommended Pat Conroy's "Lanterns on the Levee," and I just went on Amazon to read a few pages and I already like the style a lot), and about memoir and about the writing life. "We have a thirteen-year-old, and he's already figured out he's not going to be a writer," he said.

I've been going over, on and off for years, what I'd say to this guy who made me love books. And I think I did all right. He's shorter than I remember but he's twice as alive, just he and I in the hallway and not a whole class to ask questions and misunderstand his humor. He really did make me love books. On the Road, but also The Great Gatsby and Heart of Darkness and also tons of post-World War I poetry like Sigfried Sassoon, some of which I still remember. He recommended The Sun Also Rises and I read it twice that semester.

That's my dog.

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