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Working Titles Excerpts

Roe:Telling the Tale

- By Joyce Avrech Berkman

BEFORE MY HUSBAND, Len Berkman, and I married in September 1962, we spent the summer of that year in my hometown, San Jose, California. While working as a reporter for the Milpitas Post on the outskirts of San Jose, Lenny met Patricia Theresa “Pat” Maginnis. Pat offered night classes in English to poor and exploited Mexican farm workers, but she had another and related focus for her energies as well. In 1961, as a San Francisco medical technician, she founded the Society for Humane Abortion in California (SHA), the first organized movement in the United States to call for the repeal of all laws banning abortion. Previous resistance movements, grounded in the concept of therapeutic abortion, proposed to reform those laws by setting up medical review committees to review...

Working Titles Excerpts

Torture (Working Title 7.1)

- By Jean Améry, translated by Emory Klann

WHOEVER VISITS BELGIUM as a tourist might happen upon Fort Breendonk, halfway between Brussels and Antwerp. The fortress was built during World War I. I don’t know what purpose it served then, but in the Second World War, during the short eighteen days of resistance by the Belgian Army in May of 1940, Breendonk was the last headquarters of King Leopold. Later, under German occupation, it became a kind of small concentration camp or, in the Rotwelsch of the Third Reich, a “reception camp.” Today it is a Belgian national museum.

At first glance, Fort Breendonk seems very old, almost as though it belonged to the remote past. Under the eternally gray and rainy skies of Flanders, its grassy domes and dark gray walls give it the look of a bleak engraving from the...

Working Titles Excerpts

A Short Inquiry into the End of the World (Working Title 6.2)

- By David Stromberg

It looked like a regular day—all business as usual—but I knew that the world had come to an end. People went about their business as if nothing had happened. And I, too, did all the same things. I woke up in the same bed, went into the same shower, used the same soap. But I knew it was the end of days. And that, to understand how we got here, I had no choice but to investigate.

With everything destroyed, I couldn’t go outside, so I sat down at my desk and began with the only resource I had: my library. And since my only clue was the date of the apocalypse, September 11, 2021, I began by looking in the rubble of Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers.

I’d been in the audience, as a young gumshoe, when Spiegelman came to our college...

Working Titles Excerpts

Bird Girl (Working Title Vol 6.1)

- By Avital Balwit

The Massachusetts Review presents the newest e-book in our Working Titles series: Bird Girl by Avital Balwit. Available now!

"It was August, and the days came damp and hot. The morning air shone so that you knew the afternoon would swelter. Sasha had AC, but kept her windows open anyways to let in the mild nights. It was 8 a.m. and time to close them. A faint buzz caught her attention, “11:48 p.m., Selby Street and 10th, 547XD1IY,” less than a mile away. She clicked accept and checked the map again. It looked like she’d be off-roading. She found her hiking boots in the closet and set out.

The job worked with her hours. She could do it early in the morning, or she could do it in the middle of the night. The light made...

Working Titles Excerpts

Cape Cod, Revisited (Working Titles Volume 5.2)

- By Michael Thurston

The Massachusetts Review presents the newest e-book in our Working Titles series: Cape Cod, Revisited by Michael Thurston, with an introduction by Russ Rymer. Available now!

"Cape Cod begins with a shipwreck.

On October 9, 1849, Henry David Thoreau and William Ellery Channing traveled together to Cape Cod. Having planned to take the steamer from Boston to Provincetown but learning upon arrival in Boston that the boat had been delayed by a storm and that, in the same storm, the St. John had run aground just off Cohasset (“Death!” read the handbill they noticed in the streets: “one hundred and forty five lives lost at Cohasset”), they changed course. Thoreau and Channing opted instead for the...

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