Endpapers – genderqueer book conservator discovers a hidden love letter that leads to their own inner discovery
Endpapers is a character-driven story set in 2003 New York City about a genderqueer book conservator who feels trapped by her gender presentation, her ill-fitting relationship, and her artistic block, as she discovers a decades-old hidden queer love letter and becomes obsessed with tracking down its author.
Bookbinder Dawn Levit works in conservation at the Met, she spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping something might spark inspiration. Instead, everything looks like a dead end. And art isn’t the only thing that feels wrong: wherever she turns, her gender identity clashes with the rest of her life. Her relationship, once anchored by shared queerness, is falling apart as her boyfriend Lukas increasingly seems to be attracted to Dawn only when she’s at her most masculine. Meanwhile at work, Dawn has to present as female, even on the days when that isn’t true. Either way, her difference feels like a liability.
Then, one day at work, Dawn finds something hidden behind the endpaper of an old book: the torn-off cover of a ‘50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About. On the front is a campy illustration of a woman looking into a handheld mirror and seeing a man’s face. And on the back is a love letter.
Dawn latches onto the coincidence, becoming obsessed with tracking down the note’s author. Her fixation only increases when her best friend Jae is injured in a hate crime, for which Dawn feels responsible. As Dawn searches for the letter’s author, she is also looking for herself. She tries to understand how to live in a world that doesn’t see her as she truly is, how to get unstuck in her gender, and how to rediscover her art, and she can’t shake the feeling that the note’s author might be able to help guide her to the answers.
A sharply written, deeply evocative story about what it means to live authentically—even within an identity whose parameters have not yet been defined—Endpapers will appeal to readers of queer, nonbinary, or trans fiction like Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby as well as anyone who loves character-driven, setting-rich stories like Tell the Wolves I’m Home or The Immortalists.
Available from Workman/Algonquin.
Jennifer Savran Kelly (she/her/they/them) lives in Ithaca, New York, where she writes, binds books, and works as a production editor at Cornell University Press. Endpapers is her debut novel. In 2018 it won a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. In 2019 it was selected as a finalist for the SFWP Literary Awards program and for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Her short fiction has appeared in Hobart, Black Warrior Review, Green Mountains Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts (Online Companion), and elsewhere. In 2014, she was selected to study in the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.