Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Marcus. Mistah Speh. The Spehster, okay that’s annoying. Please tell us about the new group here at the Fictionaut camp grounds. Marshmallow?

A (Marcus Speh): it’s hard for me to feel really annoyed: after all, how do i know that you exist at all? i’ve never seen you, touched you, tasted you. no offense. marshmallows are a completely different thing: they’re marvelous (i wonder if there’s an etymological connection mar-velous mar-shmallows?) but more to the point, skewered (yes!) marshmallows are a staple diet at the all-new-all-singing-and-dancing academy-award-ready “kaffe in katmandu“. the kaffe is a very special place and when novelist jurgen fauth himself put his weight behind the creation of a fictionaut group for the kaffe, i had to act and turn up the heat. which i did, marshmallows and all.

I see this is in the group’s write-up as what the group is all about: «Camus smoking, squint-eyed sartre, bukowski burping, forgotten dadaists and remembered revolutionaries. colette has a table here where she drinks with merit oppenheim. nietzsche hides out here: he secretly reads jane austen. the photos on the wall are bisexual.» Which I for one happen to think is brilliant. Why’d you start this group? The «contact the m’aitre d’» bit was amazing I love it. Marshmallow?

thanks you for the offer (marshmallow) – i must decline. i spend all my time sitting and writing and i’m trying to lose weight. seriously. by writing about thin things. lean management. skeletons in the cupboard. bulimic teenagers. starving sparrows…

sorry! back to your question: why did i start this group, or rather, the kaffe? – well, to get more time for writing i shut down my facebook friends’ page a month ago. i wanted to escape the endless chat but i found that i did still accumulate links and ideas and snippets of this or that digital ditty while i was traversing the web or the papers. put the need to SHARE together with my in-built desire for DESIGN and my recent fascination with TUMBLR, and out came “kaffe in katmandu”, the ugly duckling among the webzines, not a webzine at all, actually, but a fluid collective of artists, many of them writers, some faces well known from fictionaut – bill yarrow, marcelle heath, sam rasnake, ann bogle and many others are members.

“fluid”, or fluxional like “fluxus” (!), is important to me, too: i resent cliques and closed spaces and once i realised how much energy and creativity resides on tumblr, where people are continuously blogging and reblogging, attaching and sharing, i figured that it would be great to bring some of that talent together on an attractive site. this gamble is beginning to pay off – the ‘scene’ is shaken and stirred a little.

the kaffe may not be much but it has grown quite rapidly in a little over one month – we’ve had more than 5500 visitors who spend a whopping 8,5 minutes on the site on average, we count more than 50 members (who can post whatever they like, including their original art, stories, poems etc.), we’ve featured films, books and philosophers and we don’t seem to get tired of it. recently, fellow fictionaut catherine davis joined me as our maitre d’ during us-american day time…we’re open and we’re happening…

Do you have other existential, metaphorical, non-tangible locations which you often travel to?

i like your assembly of attributes! i get around a fair amount…my favorite literate hangouts include places that you’ve already featured here, like frank hinton‘s metazen and the new housefire, danny goodman‘s fwriction:review (both also tumblr-based), mad hatters review edited by the excellent carol novack and ann bogle, david cotrone‘s used furniture review, shel compton‘s a-minor etc. etc. way too many to list – this is exactly why i find a place like the kaffe so useful: there’s so much out there and it’s hard to keep track of the best.

Who is one of your favorite magical realism flash writers?

i’d like to mention a dead flash giant, who’s perhaps not on everybody’s top list nowadays, but i’m terribly fond of literary archeology: jorge luis borges. this is the his flash “toenails” (transl. from the Spanish by A. Hurley):

Gentle socks pamper them by day, and shoes cobbled of leather  fortify them, but my toes hardly notice. All they’re interested in is turning out toenails – semitransparent, flexible sheets of a hornlike material, as defense against-whom? Brutish, distrustful as only they can be, my toes labor ceaselessly at manufacturing that frail armament. They turn their backs on the universe and its ecstasies in order to spin out, endlessly, those ten pointless projectile heads, which are cut away time and again by the sudden snips of a Solingen. By the ninetieth twilit day of their prenatal confinement, my toes had cranked up that extraordinary factory. And when I am tucked away in Recoleta, in an ash-colored house bedecked with dry flowers and amulets, they will still be at their stubborn work, until corruption at last slows them-them and the beard upon my cheeks.

– marshmallow, yes?

Please tell us about you, your projects and anything else you’d like us to savor here.

i tend to keep my blog up to date on all public and private matters, especially in so far as they pertain to penguins. right now, i’d like you to do two things: (1) sign up with kaffe in katmandu by leaving your email here – or just hang out there with us; (2) keep your fingers crossed for my new novella … that’ll do, that’ll do. thank you for asking, nicolle, and for the candy.

Nicolle Elizabeth is back and we’re awfully happy about that. She checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

  1. sheldon lee compton

    loving the kaffe…cool talk, folks

  2. Nicolle Elizabeth

    Thanks Shel. KIR’ing. Keeping It Real

  3. Jane Hammons

    great interview great kaffe

  4. Robert Vaughan

    Holla Marcus! Great interview and thanks to and Nicolle for keeping it real. Also the fantastic cafe: world recognized kaffe in katmandu.

  5. Sam Rasnake


  6. LindaS-W

    Fun interview! The kaffe is always hopping with lots of good art, prose, poetry, and ‘serious’ essay stuff. The coffee’s pretty good, too ;^) Peace…

  7. susan tepper

    PURE SPEH. The kaffe is so cool I want to go there and eat marshmallows and drink all the varieties of coffees in the burlap sacks and hang out with all the dead poets and writers that I know are hanging out in the kaffe. Especially Paul Bowles. He is most definitely there sharing the maitre d’s table and leaning back into the huge embroidered pillows.

  8. Marcus Speh

    thank you everyone, enjoyed the interview and the comments, too. will feature an existentialist novel by paul bowles in an upcoming “books to remember” post – thank you so much for the suggestion! drop in any time, everyone, please.

  9. Jules Archer

    Such great banter…and a great interview!

  10. susan tepper

    I have a rather existentially spooky experience about Paul Bowles that I will write up as a non-fiction piece and send to you, Mr. Speh..

  11. Marcus Speh

    yes, ms tepper, please do. i can’t wait. bowles’ book ref will go up tonight at the kaffe but an original tishka will always be gratefully received in kathmandu…

    [of course …as i said, you and all fnaut members are welcome as kaffe members. all you need to do is sent me your email for an invite.]

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