The Man of Many Words: Nasser Publishes Novel

Longtime History Teacher Publishes Work of Fiction
Dr. Nasser with his book Mateos Walk.
Dr. Nasser with his book “Mateo’s Walk”.

In the quieter halls of the history wing of Edison High School, where lessons of the past are an important part of each day, notable educator Dr. Gene Nasser has added a new title to his extensive resume: author.

Nasser has been a teacher for more than twenty years, having taught eighteen years at Edison High and twenty years at Middlesex College, covering such subjects as United States History 1, AP United States History, AP World History, History of Civilization, and Philosophy. Recently, he has ventured beyond the domains of historical textbooks, timelines, and lectures, immersing himself in the creation of his novel, Mateo’s Walk: The Humanity of AI.

Copies of “Mateo’s Walk,” by EHS history teacher Dr. Gene Nasser, laid out for display and purchase at a book launch event in December 2023.

The novel talks about the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and a future in which it has gotten out of hand. It discusses a dystopian society and invokes mystery, adventure, and science fiction. Nasser recommends the book for older high school students, as mature themes are involved.

Mateo’s Walk goes beyond only discussing technological concerns, advocating for improved human connections without artificial intelligence.

While the book doesn’t primarily focus on students, it does touch upon the generational divide. In his work, Nasser emphasizes the importance of understanding and appreciating the perspectives of both young and old in the community. He claimed that EHS students have helped him gain a new perspective and see the path of the future, which he illustrates in his novel.

“EHS helped to tap into the ethos of the younger generation,” said Nasser.

Nasser explained that there was no specific motivation; rather, he felt compelled by an artistic urge to create. The process, he said, unfolded naturally, and he went with the flow, finding the experience both challenging and rewarding.

“Putting myself out there was the hardest. It was scary,” Nasser said. After overcoming this feeling, he felt rewarded, proud, and supported. Nasser says the feeling felt right, but weird at the same time.

EHS helped to tap into the ethos of the younger generation

— Dr. Gene Nasser

The writing for the novel took almost five years to complete as a result of various struggles and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, began halfway through the completion of the novel, after which Nasser stopped writing and put his idea down for a bit. He additionally felt discouraged while writing, and instead began working on a textbook that he was never able to complete. After COVID subsided, Nasser returned to his novel with determination and dedication, setting a daily goal of 1,000 words, though he would sometimes write 1,001 words, and on other days, only a few.

Dr. Gene Nasser, hand raised, engages with his students in a seminar during his European History class.

But, according to Nasser, “progress is progress.”

Working on the novel taught Nasser numerous things about both the writing process and himself as a whole. In chapter five of his work, he writes an original screenplay that reflects upon what he learned from his own novel. In addition, he said that the writing process taught him how to overcome self-doubt, keep himself motivated, and maintain belief in his novel and have the motivation to complete it. Furthermore, Nasser said he learned the importance of pacing and self-editing.

To his readers, Nasser expressed gratitude and encouraged them to appreciate life as a race against time. The book serves as a reminder to strive to be the best version of oneself and to treat others well.

Teasing a new book in the works, Nasser hints at a series with themes such as coming-of-age, AI-generated content, and more. He hopes to further explore the idea of human intelligence versus artificial intelligence.

The publication of this book marks not just a personal accomplishment for Nasser, but also a potential source of inspiration and reflection for the wider community. Nasser wishes to highlight that both the younger and older generations are equal and have valuable thoughts.

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