Thank You For Your Sperm" (MadHat Press, 2013) is Marcus Speh's debut collection of short fiction with 80 stories and an interview with the author. — Order the book now via Amazon.com.

EASTER ESSENCE

At Easter the common folks bring their eggs to the Lord. The lidless  leveret lies in the grave, its open eyes directed upwards in death. The egg goes into the Easter bread: it is blamed on the lagomorph. Mixed images: resurrection and spawning, the hare as chicken, the sidestepping and egg painting, the instinct to flee before the crucifixion and after, Saturday’s search for the buried, the Hidden, and above all the sweetness rising from the sadness like a naked fog and dissolving on the tongue when the chocolate egg melts. Stubbornly we move to safety from the power of the old pictures. Rites and processions take place in backyards: their participants are like ghosts. Sung incantations that connect heaven and earth vanish as soon as the first warmth of spring arrives. What is the essence? What is the truth of our time? What forms the center of the egg whose center is an egg?

[German original: Versuch über Ostern; en français: essence de Pâques]

Posted at 11:33am and tagged with: Easter, egg, hare, ritual, procession,.

EASTER ESSENCE
At Easter the common folks bring their eggs to the Lord. The lidless  leveret lies in the grave, its open eyes directed upwards in death. The egg goes into the Easter bread: it is blamed on the lagomorph. Mixed images: resurrection and spawning, the hare as chicken, the sidestepping and egg painting, the instinct to flee before the crucifixion and after, Saturday’s search for the buried, the Hidden, and above all the sweetness rising from the sadness like a naked fog and dissolving on the tongue when the chocolate egg melts. Stubbornly we move to safety from the power of the old pictures. Rites and processions take place in backyards: their participants are like ghosts. Sung incantations that connect heaven and earth vanish as soon as the first warmth of spring arrives. What is the essence? What is the truth of our time? What forms the center of the egg whose center is an egg?
[German original: Versuch über Ostern; en français: essence de Pâques]
…The Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” —Gen 11,5-7
   If the bible says the truth, then there’s something potentially dangerous about speaking only one language. What could it be? ”Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” if our tongues were no longer split in different directions?

   In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Babel fish, a telepathic universal translator, is described as ”a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.” Though the argument is about as deep as the rest of the book, it suggests that language may be linked to a “Deep Magic” as C.S. Lewis might have said. What is the nature of this magic? Can it be made or unmade? Can it be learnt or must it be inherited?

   Language clearly is more than sound waves, just as mastering language is more than learning patterns, just as speaking is more than being a parrot. Language can set the tone for our dialogue with the divine: in Franz Werfel’s novel Song of Bernadette, the apparition of the Virgin Mary speaks not in any language but in Occitan, the vernacular spoken by the poor people of Lourdes. But which of the many tongues spoken is shared by God, if any?

Posted at 11:29pm and tagged with: gustave dore, tower of babel, language, bilingual, writing, writer, awkwordpapercut, speh, sperm, TYFYS,.


…The Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” —Gen 11,5-7


   If the bible says the truth, then there’s something potentially dangerous about speaking only one language. What could it be? ”Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” if our tongues were no longer split in different directions?   In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Babel fish, a telepathic universal translator, is described as ”a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.” Though the argument is about as deep as the rest of the book, it suggests that language may be linked to a “Deep Magic” as C.S. Lewis might have said. What is the nature of this magic? Can it be made or unmade? Can it be learnt or must it be inherited?   Language clearly is more than sound waves, just as mastering language is more than learning patterns, just as speaking is more than being a parrot. Language can set the tone for our dialogue with the divine: in Franz Werfel’s novel Song of Bernadette, the apparition of the Virgin Mary speaks not in any language but in Occitan, the vernacular spoken by the poor people of Lourdes. But which of the many tongues spoken is shared by God, if any?


[Read on: ”NEGOTIATING BABEL—A BILINGUAL WRITER’S RELATIONSHIP TO LANGUAGE, Awkword Paper Cut]

When I first opened this new review of Thank You For Your Sperm by Henning Koch  — I read “Fruitflies in Action” & I was already beginning to wag a teutonic finger at the author until I realized my mistake. I think my favorite bit in this review is the observation that I have the “ability to stay on the friendly side of obscurity” and “a healthy, if almost habitual interest in sex, which is never a bad thing.” Indeed! Though I must follow up on this book with another one clad in more demure colors, you know, not to give the impression I’d like to be a latter-day Henry Miller. Thank You For Your Sperm, Henning Koch!

Posted at 1:45pm and tagged with: Henning Koch, review, sperm, TYFYS, Thank You For Your Sperm, Henry Miller, Squall,.

When I first opened this new review of Thank You For Your Sperm by Henning Koch  — I read “Fruitflies in Action” & I was already beginning to wag a teutonic finger at the author until I realized my mistake. I think my favorite bit in this review is the observation that I have the “ability to stay on the friendly side of obscurity” and “a healthy, if almost habitual interest in sex, which is never a bad thing.” Indeed! Though I must follow up on this book with another one clad in more demure colors, you know, not to give the impression I’d like to be a latter-day Henry Miller. Thank You For Your Sperm, Henning Koch!

I’ll be reading from my collection “Thank You For Your Spermon Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 8 PM. The location is the charming bookstore Shakespeare and Sons, (Raumerstraße 36, 10437 Berlin).

You’ll also be able to pick up a (discounted) copy of TYFYS for friends and family — Christmas will be upon us soon. 

This is likely to be my only reading in Europe (or anywhere). Fill the stalls and snatch this moment from the jaws of time. If you can’t come: tell a friend or two.

Need further motivation? Check out some reviews. Or just look forward to the marvelous bagels baked at the bookshop.

Also, I’ll bring a pen to sign book(s) if you bring your name.

Update (21 Nov): blog post after the reading!

Posted at 9:53pm and tagged with: speh, shakespeare, shakesbooks, TYFYS, reading, Berlin,.

I’ll be reading from my collection “Thank You For Your Sperm" on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 8 PM. The location is the charming bookstore Shakespeare and Sons, (Raumerstraße 36, 10437 Berlin).You’ll also be able to pick up a (discounted) copy of TYFYS for friends and family — Christmas will be upon us soon. This is likely to be my only reading in Europe (or anywhere). Fill the stalls and snatch this moment from the jaws of time. If you can’t come: tell a friend or two.Need further motivation? Check out some reviews. Or just look forward to the marvelous bagels baked at the bookshop.Also, I’ll bring a pen to sign book(s) if you bring your name.
Update (21 Nov): blog post after the reading!

Posted at 10:23am and tagged with: this is what i see, speh, art, notebook, noir, berlin, nude,.

I only found out about Scottish-Japanese performer-writer-musician-trickster Momus this summer via his darling, tongue-in-cheek “Precocious Young Miss Calloway”. As a long time Marie-Calloway-aficionado myself, I wrote to him. We exchanged polite emails and PDF versions of our books. Last night, I listened to two hours of Internet kitchen radio with Momus and his Berlin hosts. Sperm and sex (which came to Britain in the Annus Mirabilis 1963, when I was born, as Momus told us) were topics early on and the discussion, held up intermittently by Momus memorabilia, global warming & global leaking, kept coming back to sperm in particular, including my favorite evolutionary theory, panspermia, until at some point, accompanied by virtuoso Dutch mouth trumpeting, Momus urged the listeners to

«please buy “Thank You For Your Sperm" by Berlin author Marcus Speh.»

Alright! Despite Momus’ assertion that I «wouldn’t get too excited about his endorsement, because he came relatively late to this” (Sperm? Writing? Radio?), I am of course thrilled to bits, awed, blown away, momused.

Thank you for your sperm, Momus!

Photo: Momus (centre) between hosts of [Berlin’s radio on] hosts Adrian Shephard and Rinus van Alebeek in an undisclosed Berlin kitchen on October 2, 2013. Only Momus has earned his patch. Check out: Momus’ [blog & tour dates] & [Mrs Tsk*]. In his latest album,  [Bambi], Moondog meets Tom Waits meets Disney in Japan ([playlist][spotify]). His novel, [Book of Jokes]. Charming: [Precocious Young Miss Calloway]. [Meeting Marie Calloway Without Adrien Brody] [Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis] [Panspermia via Wikipedia]

Posted at 12:27pm and tagged with: Momus, momusu, speh, sperm, TYFYS, Thank You For Your Sperm, Berlin, Bambi, radio, marie calloway, adrien brody, Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis,.

I only found out about Scottish-Japanese performer-writer-musician-trickster Momus this summer via his darling, tongue-in-cheek “Precocious Young Miss Calloway”. As a long time Marie-Calloway-aficionado myself, I wrote to him. We exchanged polite emails and PDF versions of our books. Last night, I listened to two hours of Internet kitchen radio with Momus and his Berlin hosts. Sperm and sex (which came to Britain in the Annus Mirabilis 1963, when I was born, as Momus told us) were topics early on and the discussion, held up intermittently by Momus memorabilia, global warming & global leaking, kept coming back to sperm in particular, including my favorite evolutionary theory, panspermia, until at some point, accompanied by virtuoso Dutch mouth trumpeting, Momus urged the listeners to 

«please buy “Thank You For Your Sperm" by Berlin author Marcus Speh.» 

Alright! Despite Momus’ assertion that I «wouldn’t get too excited about his endorsement, because he came relatively late to this” (Sperm? Writing? Radio?), I am of course thrilled to bits, awed, blown away, momused. 
Thank you for your sperm, Momus!

Photo: Momus (centre) between hosts of [Berlin’s radio on] hosts Adrian Shephard and Rinus van Alebeek in an undisclosed Berlin kitchen on October 2, 2013. Only Momus has earned his patch. Check out: Momus’ [blog & tour dates] & [Mrs Tsk*]. In his latest album,  [Bambi], Moondog meets Tom Waits meets Disney in Japan ([playlist][spotify]). His novel, [Book of Jokes]. Charming: [Precocious Young Miss Calloway]. [Meeting Marie Calloway Without Adrien Brody] [Philip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis] [Panspermia via Wikipedia]

All the other “Serious Writer” stories in my collection are told from a male perspective. Only “The Serious Writer And Her Bush" (below, a kind of counter-piece to "The Serious Writer And His Penis") assumes that The Serious Writer is a woman.

I’ve often been drawn to picking female protagonists only to find out later that it’s too hard for a man to write a woman convincingly. At least I cannot do it & I think it may be a widespread problem among male writers. Take Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” — for me, the title figure never really comes to life in the same way as Lewin, the male protagonist, does. He seems to carry the burden of the story while she carries the heavier fate.

Perhaps someone should offer a tutorial for Serious Writing (Wo)Men, “Writing as a (wo)man for wo(men).”

Here’s the story — The Serious Writer And Her Bush:

«The serious writer looks back on a long and distinguished career as an herbologist. Her favourite bush grows in Central Park and is called Noah’s Ark by the residents because of the myriad of animals that it shelters. The serious writer has given a name to every leaf and branch of the Ark, and when autumn comes, her heart slowly withers, pondering decay as the shrub sheds its summer splendour and returns to the raw.»

Central Park New York City New York 23 cropped


—From: The Serious Writer And Her Bush, in “Thank You For Your Sperm”, published by MadHat Press. This story was first published under my nom de plume Flawnt in elimae. — Photo: Central Park Bridges (Wikimedia).

Posted at 2:44pm and tagged with: TYFYS, elimae, Central Park,.

«This debut collection mixes the sacred and profane, beauty and beast, the strange and the wondrous. Not necessarily in that order. Or any type of defined order other than The Serious Writer segment  […] Rather, the stories in this book seem quarantined like hungry orphans: Read me, they appear to shout from their temporary cots, take me home and love me; or better yet make love to me. Speh’s voices are consistently on pitch, his plots and settings well defined. There is a clatter in the book similar to the way Chekhov made his stories come alive.»

—from “A Certain Balanced Unbalance”, a review of “Thank You For Your Sperm” in The LitPub by Susan Tepper, author of The Merrill Diaries. Image: Venus of Willendorf.

Posted at 10:22pm and tagged with: Susan Tepper, TheLitPub, TYFYS, Thank You For Your Sperm, review, George Orwell, balance, stories, book review,.

«This debut collection mixes the sacred and profane, beauty and beast, the strange and the wondrous. Not necessarily in that order. Or any type of defined order other than The Serious Writer segment  […] Rather, the stories in this book seem quarantined like hungry orphans: Read me, they appear to shout from their temporary cots, take me home and love me; or better yet make love to me. Speh’s voices are consistently on pitch, his plots and settings well defined. There is a clatter in the book similar to the way Chekhov made his stories come alive.»
—from “A Certain Balanced Unbalance”, a review of “Thank You For Your Sperm” in The LitPub by Susan Tepper, author of The Merrill Diaries. Image: Venus of Willendorf.

The serious writer is working on his first novel.

He moves his household to a deserted location called Loch Llamorgan. He buys a large shovel, which he covers with tattoos lifted from a book of Maori motives. He anticipates a journey of many moons. He drives to the local liquor store and purchases supplies. He devises a plan to shelter the house from all disturbing influences: it involves a system of trenches surrounding the house, an escape tunnel from the study, and CCTV surveillance around the perimeter. He begins to dig.

When the serious writer, weeks later, finally sits down to start writing, he is exhausted and has forgotten what he wanted to write about, or why. He dolefully looks at his tool with the strange patterns on them, and at his callused hands, and he cannot hear any voices.

He composes an e-mail for an anonymous publisher expressing his sorrow over pressing deadlines, the demands of job and family, and regrets the delay in providing a synopsis. After sending the message, he lies face down in one of the ditches criss-crossing the field in front of the house, and drinks in the scent of the soil, waiting for the book to write itself.

[From: “Thank You For Your Sperm”, MadHat Press, 2013, story first published in Wrong Tree Review, 2011][Image: Atlas, drawing by Alfred Kubin, 1942]

The Austrian artist Alfred Kubin (1877-1959) was a pioneer of symbolism and expressionism. He illustrated books of Edgar Allan Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Fyodor Dostoevsky and others. His only novel “Die andere Seite” (The other side) was admired by Kafka. My father was a collector of Kubin’s graphical work and passed his collection on to me. Kubin’s fantastic, absurdist novel was an important influence during my teenage years.

image

Posted at 1:12pm and tagged with: Alfred Kubin, TYFYS, Atlas, Novel, Writing, serious writers, Speh, MadHat Press, Wrong Tree Review,.

my hands were made of iron: i built a faraday cage to shield my manhood from curious looks. thus armed, i left work & went for a walk in the park that always makes me peevish, but more so when i’m horny and upset. i watched the people pass through their lives & i wondered how they might feel on the inside: furry or feverish or simply red-hot. i sat down on a bench to read, munching carots and sandwich prepared by her for me, lovingly i had to give it to her. the sun melted my resolve to remain a grump. teenagers hopped along, listlessly. no radiowaves ravished my soul. calm & collected i got back to work, lead my team astray & postponed deadlines like an expert undertaker.

 [Excerpt from: “Tickled Pink”. Photo from: “Barefoot in the Park” (1967)]

Posted at 1:53pm and tagged with: TYFYS, Thank You For Your Sperm, Barefoot, 1967, pink,.


my hands were made of iron: i built a faraday cage to shield my manhood from curious looks. thus armed, i left work & went for a walk in the park that always makes me peevish, but more so when i’m horny and upset. i watched the people pass through their lives & i wondered how they might feel on the inside: furry or feverish or simply red-hot. i sat down on a bench to read, munching carots and sandwich prepared by her for me, lovingly i had to give it to her. the sun melted my resolve to remain a grump. teenagers hopped along, listlessly. no radiowaves ravished my soul. calm & collected i got back to work, lead my team astray & postponed deadlines like an expert undertaker.

 [Excerpt from: “Tickled Pink”. Photo from: “Barefoot in the Park” (1967)]