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.
…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.]

«[…] Characters within these stories are fully fleshed out. ‘Pleasant Pieces’ neatly organize a picture of a singular, titular character. Though they reference many familiar names (Max Ernst, Hansel and Gretel) they tend to focus on the writer’s own personal experiences, thoughts or ideas. How the mind wanders over these topics is brilliant. Little elements of childhood, growing up, ailments, memories, former friends and lovers, all find themselves in here. After a while the stories resemble a reality as filtered through a series of mirrors, constantly reflecting on both life and life’s inevitable interaction with a culture so dominant it becomes part of one’s upbringing. […] Blogs come up a number of times in the book through Marcus Speh’s own experience with his blog and another blog mentioned in the prologue. Technology comes into view with the IPAD which plays out as a comedy of misunderstandings. Writing changes before the serious writer, Marcus Speh’s stand-in. After surprising revelations in ‘The Serious Writer’ section he moves onto lovely, dreamlike imagery of ‘On Christmas Day’. Moving around the world he captures slivers of humanity’s experience. […] The absurdity is worked into a weird place. Everything moves. Nothing is stationary. Pieces of the Greek gods show themselves in the ephemeral ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’. By the very end of the book an interview helps to clarify elements of the book, neatly summarizing everything. Marcus Speh writes in a way that is refreshing unique, absurd, sad, and quite touching. ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’ is absurdity done gently from a point of view that’s revealing and surprisingly personal.» —Anonymous review of TYFYS in HTMLGIANT.  Photo: iconic alt lit writer  Beach Sloth in London 1953, between two giant Beefeaters. 

Posted at 7:17pm and tagged with: Beefeater, htmlgiant, London, 1953, TYFYS, sperm, book review, galleycat, Speh,.

«[…] Characters within these stories are fully fleshed out. ‘Pleasant Pieces’ neatly organize a picture of a singular, titular character. Though they reference many familiar names (Max Ernst, Hansel and Gretel) they tend to focus on the writer’s own personal experiences, thoughts or ideas. How the mind wanders over these topics is brilliant. Little elements of childhood, growing up, ailments, memories, former friends and lovers, all find themselves in here. After a while the stories resemble a reality as filtered through a series of mirrors, constantly reflecting on both life and life’s inevitable interaction with a culture so dominant it becomes part of one’s upbringing. […] Blogs come up a number of times in the book through Marcus Speh’s own experience with his blog and another blog mentioned in the prologue. Technology comes into view with the IPAD which plays out as a comedy of misunderstandings. Writing changes before the serious writer, Marcus Speh’s stand-in. After surprising revelations in ‘The Serious Writer’ section he moves onto lovely, dreamlike imagery of ‘On Christmas Day’. Moving around the world he captures slivers of humanity’s experience. […] The absurdity is worked into a weird place. Everything moves. Nothing is stationary. Pieces of the Greek gods show themselves in the ephemeral ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’. By the very end of the book an interview helps to clarify elements of the book, neatly summarizing everything. Marcus Speh writes in a way that is refreshing unique, absurd, sad, and quite touching. ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’ is absurdity done gently from a point of view that’s revealing and surprisingly personal.» —Anonymous review of TYFYS in HTMLGIANT.  Photo: iconic alt lit writer  Beach Sloth in London 1953, between two giant Beefeaters. 

Darryl Price has been a poet since the age of twelve when he was first published in his hometown newspaper. He is the author of over 30 chapbooks of poetry and has been published widely in small press magazines throughout his career.* Darryl, who’s also the editor of literary e-zine Olentangy Review, says about ”Thank You For Your Sperm” and its author: 

«This guy is one of the most amazing, fun, original writers around. You will enjoy the shit out of this book and return to it often—it’s that good. You’ll want to share it with others and read passages aloud. It’s the kind of thing—when you really come down to it—that makes life worth while. Breathe deeply and enjoy. That’s what it’s for. It clears the head. It massages the heart. It opens the box of dreams once more. Aren’t we lucky? Yes, to have in our world, at the same time as us, someone so willing to create art this wonderful.»

I’ve long admired Darryl’s work; poems like “Like a Pop Song This Is the Head of a Sunflower" perform exactly the mystery desired by their maker, they "light up and spin around and make a beautiful noise", and give a glimpse of one of the most beautiful imaginations alive in poetry right now. I’m grateful to have touched a string or two in him, too, with my stories.

*) Text from: Olentangy Review. Photo: Marcus Speh by Marcus Speh (2010).

Posted at 11:59pm and tagged with: Darryl Price, Olentangy Review, TYFYS, speh, sperm,.

Darryl Price has been a poet since the age of twelve when he was first published in his hometown newspaper. He is the author of over 30 chapbooks of poetry and has been published widely in small press magazines throughout his career.* Darryl, who’s also the editor of literary e-zine Olentangy Review, says about ”Thank You For Your Sperm” and its author: 

«This guy is one of the most amazing, fun, original writers around. You will enjoy the shit out of this book and return to it often—it’s that good. You’ll want to share it with others and read passages aloud. It’s the kind of thing—when you really come down to it—that makes life worth while. Breathe deeply and enjoy. That’s what it’s for. It clears the head. It massages the heart. It opens the box of dreams once more. Aren’t we lucky? Yes, to have in our world, at the same time as us, someone so willing to create art this wonderful.»

I’ve long admired Darryl’s work; poems like “Like a Pop Song This Is the Head of a Sunflower" perform exactly the mystery desired by their maker, they "light up and spin around and make a beautiful noise", and give a glimpse of one of the most beautiful imaginations alive in poetry right now. I’m grateful to have touched a string or two in him, too, with my stories.
*) Text from: Olentangy Review. Photo: Marcus Speh by Marcus Speh (2010).

Alt Lit icon Beach Sloth reviews “Thank You For Your Sperm”:

«Marcus Speh explores the tender side of absurdity with ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’. Though this is flash fiction it lingers in the mind for much longer. Entire histories are suggested in these small pieces. Not a word is wasted either. From the title to the last line Marcus Speh uses language economically. Words playfully jump across the page opening entirely new histories within histories. Geography is a key part of these stories as geography too can suggest a mood with a simple word or two. Berlin specifically gets rather affectionate treatment. How all of this comes together is quite impressive.»

I liked his style before this review, now I have a personal reason to love it. He points out how TYFYS «is absurdity done gently from a point of view that’s revealing and surprisingly personal.» I knew that several of my pieces had that “personal” feeling and origin but I didn’t know that the whole collection feels  branded like a herd of Texas Longhorns.

Posted at 1:52pm and tagged with: alt lit, Beach Sloth, TYFYS, Thank You For Your Sperm, speh,.

Alt Lit icon Beach Sloth reviews “Thank You For Your Sperm”:

«Marcus Speh explores the tender side of absurdity with ‘Thank You for Your Sperm’. Though this is flash fiction it lingers in the mind for much longer. Entire histories are suggested in these small pieces. Not a word is wasted either. From the title to the last line Marcus Speh uses language economically. Words playfully jump across the page opening entirely new histories within histories. Geography is a key part of these stories as geography too can suggest a mood with a simple word or two. Berlin specifically gets rather affectionate treatment. How all of this comes together is quite impressive.»

I liked his style before this review, now I have a personal reason to love it. He points out how TYFYS «is absurdity done gently from a point of view that’s revealing and surprisingly personal.» I knew that several of my pieces had that “personal” feeling and origin but I didn’t know that the whole collection feels  branded like a herd of Texas Longhorns.