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Sometimes The Work Refuses to Become a Mere Book

You turn the pages with increasing wonderment and awe. All of the metaphors of loving: delight, joyful laughter, fear of losing the conversation come into play. 

by Abram Shalom Himelstein, editor-in-chief

Publishing work goes in cycles. First you fall in love with the book—something about the writing or the way the work will move in the world. You turn the pages with increasing wonderment and awe. All of the metaphors of loving: delight, joyful laughter, fear of losing the conversation come into play. 

And then you marry the book. You make a deal with the author, sign contracts, enter into a more real relationship. You begin to worry about the flaws in the text. You struggle to find a cover that will represent the book well and signal to the audiences who might love the work, You should check it out! 

All of these details smell a lot like longer-term relationships. It’s time to work on the kerning. And then another round of copy editing. 

Occasionally, when everyone in the office has read the manuscript too many times, or when we are hurrying to get a book to the printer, I will ask my dad, Jerry Himelstein, to copy edit something. This week, we were working to send Alex Myers’ Supporting Transgender Students off to the printing press. We broke the book into six sections. I took the lion’s share and then gave Jerry two of my three chapters. 

He came back with his corrections (he had been a professional copy editor in one of his many jobs) but also with this: 

I wish there had been a book like this in 1969 when I taught at the (that year) desegregating Gulfport High. There may have been one, but we never saw it.  What we had instead was a principled principal who was simply and explicitly committed to making it work. It was great leadership for the time, but we really had no guidebook like this and no explicit training and education or thorough dialogue. So we were all just winging it, based on our own instincts and motivations. You can understand how that made Ron Welch and me gravitate to each other. There were a lot of older teachers and some younger ones in whom it was easy to suspect and occasionally to detect lingering biases.  

And that’s how the magic of a relationship with a book returns: with emphasis. Each person to whom I have shown this work has recognized that this book has been missing from their lives. As diverse LGBTQ+ voices usher in a new era, this publication is one of the many tools that can assist us in doing exact work that Alex Myers highlights in his title: Supporting Transgender Students. And just like that, my love burns bright again. So proud and honored that UNO Press is partnering with Alex Myers in releasing this book. 

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