Old Truths and New Clichés collects eighteen essays—most of them previously unpublished in English—by Isaac Bashevis Singer on topics that were central to his artistic vision throughout an astonishing and prolific literary career spanning more than six decades. Expanding on themes reflected in his best-known work—including the literary arts, Yiddish and Jewish life, and mysticism and philosophy—the book illuminates in new ways the rich intellectual, aesthetic, religious, and biographical background of Singer’s singular achievement as the first Yiddish-language author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In A Short Inquiry into the End of the World, Mister Investigator takes on this fraught and dangerous moment in history, and what it says about our future. This particular time, 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.
Working Titles, The Massachusetts Review (2021)
IDIOT LOVE turns our search for intimacy on its head, suggesting that our way to creativity in love may be through idiocy. The book takes its readers on a journey through the work of Plato and Melanie Klein in theorizing the dynamics of intimacy while exploring some of the paradoxical aspects of love in works by Fyodor Dostoevsky and French filmmaker Catherine Breillat. Revisiting core concepts of how we think about relationships, the book lays out a model for relational breakdown—the idiot love cycle—in which we are constantly in the flux between seeing ourselves and seeing the other. Effecting close readings of literary, philosophical, and psycho-analytical sources, the book traces their shared intellectual genealogy, suggesting that the tension between Narcissus and Cassandra, with its inherent conflicts, is also a space through which love emerges from intimacy.
In the Land of Happy Tears offers access to modern works—translated for the first time into English—for anyone who appreciates a well-told story rich with timeless wisdom. You’ll meet a king who loves honey so much that instead of ruling over his people, he licks honey all day. You’ll ponder the conundrum of the moon, who longs for a playmate—but where to find a child who isn’t fast asleep at night? You’ll enter a forest in which the king of mushrooms and the queen of ants coexist autonomously but face the same threat: the little hands and trampling feet of children at play. And you’ll learn how flavoring food with salt from tears can pose a challenging dilemma. Largely overlooked or forgotten, these hidden treasures from the early twentieth century were written by some of the most respected Yiddish writers of their time—including Jacob Kreplak, Moyshe Nadir, and Rachel Shabad—and remain surprisingly resonant for a contemporary audience.
Narrative Faith engages with the dynamics of doubt and faith to consider how literary works with complex structures explore different moral visions. The study considers a literary petite histoire in which faith is problematized in two ways—in the themes presented in the story, and the strategies used to tell that story—leading readers to doubt the narrators. Setting off with Dostoevsky’s Demons (1872), a novel that has captivated and confounded critics and readers for well over a century, the study examines Albert Camus’s The Plague (1947) and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Penitent (1973/83), works by twentieth-century authors who intensify questions of faith through narrators that generate doubt, and extend these questions into the current era. The book’s last section looks beyond narrative inquiry to consider themes of confession and revision that appear in all three novels and open onto horizons beyond faith and doubt—to hope.
Baddies looks aslant at everyday life, unearthing its most hilarious and ridiculous aspects amidst even our darkest fears and phobias. Cult cartoonist David Stromberg has been dubbed “Thurber on speed” at the legendary Gotham Book Mart. It’s easy to see why in the weird world of Baddies, an absurdist graphic collection of gags, ideas, and late night thoughts that harkens back to the early days of New Yorker cartoonists . . . even as it seems so edgy as to be completely new. Inhabited by an antic and eclectic assortment of odd-ball characters, these captioned cartoons capture a world forever veering off from the normal, the rational, and the “well adjusted.” And they introduce us to a startlingly original artist, where the art and the writerly wit combine in a way that’s both disarmingly funny and strangely familiar, not to mention refreshingly, bitingly smart.
Desperaddies is the third collection in a trilogy of graphic works inhabited by an eclectic assortment of characters caught in various moments of confusion, awkwardness and oblivious outrageousness. The book moves through eight thematic chapters, such asIndividuals in Despair, A Review of More Childish Times and Animal Relief. Inspired by the work of James Thurber, these captioned cartoons succinctly capture a world forever out of sync with the normal, the rational and the so-called well-adjusted.
Confusies is the second collection in a trilogy of graphic works inhabited by an eclectic assortment of characters caught in various moments of confusion, awkwardness and oblivious outrageousness. The book moves through six poetically titled sections designating notions such as "...despite the confusion...", "...beat down...", " and "...the dependence keeps..." Inspired by the work of James Thurber, these captioned cartoons succinctly capture a world forever out of sync with the normal, the rational and the so-called well adjusted.
Saddies is the first collection in a trilogy of graphic works inhabited by an eclectic assortment of characters caught in various moments of confusion, awkwardness and oblivious outrageousness. The book moves through three parts of the subtitle—"You Never Know Who Might Give You a Black Eye"—suggesting the unpredictability of the cartoons' internal universe. Inspired by the work of James Thurber, these captioned cartoons succinctly capture a world forever out of sync with the normal, the rational and the so-called well adjusted.
© Copyright David Stromberg