Welcome to the Massachusetts Review's Working Titles! Working Titles are e-publications of prose too long for our print pages. Working Titles will be published bimonthly.
Working Titles are made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Five Colleges, Inc., and the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, as well as private donors.
In David Stromberg's newest work, Mister Investigator takes on the end of the world—or rather, this fraught and dangerous moment that we find ourselves in, and what it says about our future. This particular moment, a crisis that feels unique and strange, is actually connected—as Mister Investigator discovers—to multiple precedents. To this end, Stromberg's analysis is first and foremost a reading: of the thinkers, poets, artists, philosophers, and politicians, who have in the past reacted to the unthinkable. He is most committed to those thinkers who managed to hold their despair close to home, or "not to lose it"—a phrase allegedly uttered to Anna Akhmatova by her then husband, the art historian Nikolai Punin. In Mister Investigator's case, it is the likes of W. H. Auden, who chose to look at the fateful events of 1939 with full awareness, or the painter Mark Rothko, whose "recipe for art" includes a willing engagement with death, irony, and tension.
Mister Investigator has the courage to study the raw texture of the present moment. He knows no comfort and no consolation, and he invites real effort at cognition. Stromberg's ability and desire to look closely at events that evoke horror is what makes his text so attractive—and more to the point, so necessary today.
Praise for David Stromberg:
"In Baddies, David Stromberg has created a cozy little planet of alter egos and parallel lives, urban marginals with vaguely Eastern European names. . . . Fantastic." —Los Angeles Times
DAVID STROMBERG is a writer, translator, and literary scholar. He has published fiction in The Woven Tale Press, Atticus Review, and the UK's Ambit, nonfiction in The American Scholar, Literary Matters, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and translations in The New Yorker, Asymptote, and Conjunctions. In 2019, he published a series of personal reflections in Public Seminar about growing up on the ethnic and cultural margins of Los Angeles. He is the author of four cartoon collections, including Baddies (Melville House), and two critical studies, most recently Idiot Love and the Elements of Intimacy (Palgrave). He acts as editor to the Isaac Bashevis Singer Literary Trust and his edited collection of Singer's essays is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.