«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,.