»The old man thought solely lonely, admittedly prudent, but rarely happy thoughts; thoughts as sturdy, as serenely savvy, as sorrowfully stable in their shrewd sanity that a tree in winter might have thought them if a tree could think. His thoughts and feelings had converged so that they were almost indistinguishable from one another: in his mind, ideas languished motionlessly, and had done for decades. Emotions no longer set anything into motion. Language, too, once a weapon, a sword, a skill, had become a cloak to wrap oneself in, against the dying of one’s day, against the emptying of one’s mind. Matter mattered less now. Vanity vanished. What had once seemed ungainly and enormous turned into ephemera.  The fabric of everything lay bare, open to the seeing eye, its threads terrifyingly thin. Being otherworldly in this world was no feast for the weak.«

Posted at 2:30pm and tagged with: ephemera, being, nothingness, age, speh, marcus speh,.

»The old man thought solely lonely, admittedly prudent, but rarely happy thoughts; thoughts as sturdy, as serenely savvy, as sorrowfully stable in their shrewd sanity that a tree in winter might have thought them if a tree could think. His thoughts and feelings had converged so that they were almost indistinguishable from one another: in his mind, ideas languished motionlessly, and had done for decades. Emotions no longer set anything into motion. Language, too, once a weapon, a sword, a skill, had become a cloak to wrap oneself in, against the dying of one’s day, against the emptying of one’s mind. Matter mattered less now. Vanity vanished. What had once seemed ungainly and enormous turned into ephemera.  The fabric of everything lay bare, open to the seeing eye, its threads terrifyingly thin. Being otherworldly in this world was no feast for the weak.«

«When the train came, I got on and as it was pulling out of the station, a trembling electric finger, I thought of my agent whom I had seen earlier that day. I had shared my idea for a new book that began with a young man, my thinly disguised alter ego, who is obsessed with a neighbor, a woman, of whom he only ever sees half a naked breast because of the way his apartment is situated across hers. I thought of this setup as a kind of “Rear Window” with all the possibilities of a Hitchcock thriller. My agent didn’t like it. She reassured me that she still thought of me as the writer German literature needed to attain a level of excellence long dusted and forgotten in this country. But this, she said, wasn’t it. Not yet, she added. But it’s sexy, secretive and sensual, I argued. Isn’t that what female readers want? She laughed and let me see her new implants. My agent is sixty but looks like thirty. I’m thirty and I feel like sixty. Together we’re ninety. That’s the kind of algebra I apply to my work which may explain why I can’t turn in my tax reports on time.»

[Read full story: A Good Day, in: What Weekly, a Baltimore magazine].

Posted at 9:13pm and tagged with: What Weekly, Baltimore, Speh, short story, demon, writer,.

«When the train came, I got on and as it was pulling out of the station, a trembling electric finger, I thought of my agent whom I had seen earlier that day. I had shared my idea for a new book that began with a young man, my thinly disguised alter ego, who is obsessed with a neighbor, a woman, of whom he only ever sees half a naked breast because of the way his apartment is situated across hers. I thought of this setup as a kind of “Rear Window” with all the possibilities of a Hitchcock thriller. My agent didn’t like it. She reassured me that she still thought of me as the writer German literature needed to attain a level of excellence long dusted and forgotten in this country. But this, she said, wasn’t it. Not yet, she added. But it’s sexy, secretive and sensual, I argued. Isn’t that what female readers want? She laughed and let me see her new implants. My agent is sixty but looks like thirty. I’m thirty and I feel like sixty. Together we’re ninety. That’s the kind of algebra I apply to my work which may explain why I can’t turn in my tax reports on time.»
[Read full story: A Good Day, in: What Weekly, a Baltimore magazine].

BOOK BAKING: »What is as much yours as you are yourself,and what is as little yours as you are yourself?« Augustine asked long ago, and we begin planning a book without having an answer ready, with an open mouth, a fly catching orifice. The first step in writing is to bring the people to life on the page. Before you can do that you must imagine them, live with them in your mind, and long before that you must dream them up like a patisseur dreams up cupcakes without worrying about customers, but simply to elevate his own consciousness, coddle his cupcakeness, to entertain his heart, to sweeten the creative deal lest it becomes a deal with the devil, generating beauty not out of reverie and substance but out of hubris and soil. The paradox of all art: is it just for me, or does it go beyond me? Alas, there is not the tiniest space left between those two tempers. The year is 1000 A.D. The character at hand, on the tip of one’s pen as it were, is a young woman of no more than 15 years, her name is Gisela, who one day as if in a dream becomes queen of a brand new kingdom. But it’s not an altogether pleasant dream: if it were a piece of music it would be an overture, an opening to an unknown future – the first queen of a non-nation, a horde, even if she’s only a girl and comes from far away like a fairy princess, has no power over the minds of the subjects to fall back on — she feels as alone as an orphan, and she is in dire need of an angel who advises her to keep calm and carry on, to uphold one’s faith at the bloody birth of the new realm. She’s small and young in years, but her fate weighs heavily on the globe: it’s going to be a triumph for christendom, and this part of the story is true. 

[click on pic to continue reading; image: St Apollonia by Albrecht Dürer]

Posted at 9:40am and tagged with: Gisela, medieval, book, blog, publishing, speh, marcus speh,.

BOOK BAKING: »What is as much yours as you are yourself,and what is as little yours as you are yourself?« Augustine asked long ago, and we begin planning a book without having an answer ready, with an open mouth, a fly catching orifice. The first step in writing is to bring the people to life on the page. Before you can do that you must imagine them, live with them in your mind, and long before that you must dream them up like a patisseur dreams up cupcakes without worrying about customers, but simply to elevate his own consciousness, coddle his cupcakeness, to entertain his heart, to sweeten the creative deal lest it becomes a deal with the devil, generating beauty not out of reverie and substance but out of hubris and soil. The paradox of all art: is it just for me, or does it go beyond me? Alas, there is not the tiniest space left between those two tempers. The year is 1000 A.D. The character at hand, on the tip of one’s pen as it were, is a young woman of no more than 15 years, her name is Gisela, who one day as if in a dream becomes queen of a brand new kingdom. But it’s not an altogether pleasant dream: if it were a piece of music it would be an overture, an opening to an unknown future – the first queen of a non-nation, a horde, even if she’s only a girl and comes from far away like a fairy princess, has no power over the minds of the subjects to fall back on — she feels as alone as an orphan, and she is in dire need of an angel who advises her to keep calm and carry on, to uphold one’s faith at the bloody birth of the new realm. She’s small and young in years, but her fate weighs heavily on the globe: it’s going to be a triumph for christendom, and this part of the story is true. 
[click on pic to continue reading; image: St Apollonia by Albrecht Dürer]
…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]

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]

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,.

"The fool packed a sand bar for lunch and a drinks of herb salt. But whence he went to play along the rainbow warrior, whom only he could see, who’d admire the mud cakes he baked? The half way house where he lived half-wittedly, loomed. He thought the term referred to: half way to an incredulous blessing bestowed by a holy child. Another century had begun already. Sign of the dragon. How he longed to novel a great lizard, edge over its scaly wings, warmed by fire breath, beowulfen, free view of the lordish land below. Called himself Hightower Givemeaflower. Little did he know that when he came back everyone would be waiting for him. When he saw them he scorched his longing and broke out in vicarious song. They appreciated his pithy pastry. That surprised him. He loved a girl named Ruina Hyena by him. Atop of his world, spinning on the outside of control, pointing with clownish fingers at this miracle and that, sat the threadbare fool and broke his bread with a beaver."

[“08:46 hrs - Praia, Cap Verde” in “On Christmas Day”, Thank You For Your Sperm, MadHat Press, 2013][Image: A Fool and a Lady Fool, ca 1540, Hans Sebald Beham]

Posted at 12:48pm and tagged with: TYFYS, fool, speh, Thank You For Your Sperm,.

"The fool packed a sand bar for lunch and a drinks of herb salt. But whence he went to play along the rainbow warrior, whom only he could see, who’d admire the mud cakes he baked? The half way house where he lived half-wittedly, loomed. He thought the term referred to: half way to an incredulous blessing bestowed by a holy child. Another century had begun already. Sign of the dragon. How he longed to novel a great lizard, edge over its scaly wings, warmed by fire breath, beowulfen, free view of the lordish land below. Called himself Hightower Givemeaflower. Little did he know that when he came back everyone would be waiting for him. When he saw them he scorched his longing and broke out in vicarious song. They appreciated his pithy pastry. That surprised him. He loved a girl named Ruina Hyena by him. Atop of his world, spinning on the outside of control, pointing with clownish fingers at this miracle and that, sat the threadbare fool and broke his bread with a beaver."
[“08:46 hrs - Praia, Cap Verde” in “On Christmas Day”, Thank You For Your Sperm, MadHat Press, 2013][Image: A Fool and a Lady Fool, ca 1540, Hans Sebald Beham]

[“Family Feud” from Thank You For Your Sperm’s “Unpleasant Stories”. First published in Monkeybicycle. Photo: dead Robert Walser, 1956.]

Posted at 4:48pm and tagged with: Walser, TYFYS, Speh, Feud, Lit, Thank You For Your Sperm,.


[“Family Feud” from Thank You For Your Sperm’s “Unpleasant Stories”. First published in Monkeybicycle. Photo: dead Robert Walser, 1956.]