I first met Randall at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, then worked with him soon after, at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. I loved how seriously, how sumptuously, he would speak of writing—and how playful he would get once our talks shifted to other subjects. His breadth of knowledge stunned me: in one conversation, I remember shifting from Baldwin to BBQ to Star Trek to Stevie Nicks to German cinema. I was hanging in with him until German cinema. He made sure to get me right, made some recommendations, and sure enough, within a month I’d become a fan of German cinema, despite myself. A few years after meeting him, we were at another Sewanee conference. I had just published a first book, and was taking part in a signing. Randall lingered around me, waited until I started an inscription, then bumped my elbow, insuring the signature spilled all over the place. He repeated this each time I started a inscription. Several people who own my first book must wonder how I ever wrote it, seeing as I couldn’t sign my own name. That prank meant a lot then, and means even more now. He’d worked with me on a few of those stories. He had made sure I gave them the seriousness they deserved. And now, it was time to play.