Retiring Forward copy editor remembers working on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s copy
Jewish Daily Forward copy editor Louis Katz retired this month after 50 years at the paper. Paul Berger writes about his career:
According to union rules, members of the typographical union were the last people to make changes to copy before it was printed. And so it was, several years after Mr. Katz started working at the Forward, that he began his relationship with [Isaac Bashevis] Singer, one of the newspaper’s most famous writers.
One day, in 1964 or ’65 — Mr. Katz does not quite remember when — the typesetter who usually set Singer’s work went on vacation, so the foreman asked Mr. Katz to step in. Mr. Katz noticed a stylistic error and corrected it. “Maybe if I had known at that time that [Singer would become] a Nobel Prize winner… I wouldn’t have the guts to do that,” Mr. Katz said.
Singer wanted to know who had corrected his copy, so the foreman brought him to Mr. Katz.
“Fun vanen shtamstu?” — Where are you from? — Singer asked Mr. Katz, who replied that he was from Warsaw, Poland.
“From now on, you gonna be my typesetter,” Mr. Katz said Singer told him.
Mr. Katz went on to set — and correct — Singer’s copy for the next decade. He said that he did not correct for spelling errors, only “stylistics.”