Factory of blind infants

“An achievement in art or in letters grows more interesting when we perceive its connections.” —Henry James

In preparation of the (by now irreversible, one hopes) publication of “Thank You For Your Sperm” (TYFYS), I will post a handful of its 80 stories together with background, notes on the story’s genesis and so on. This post also includes a reading of the two flashes “Freedom Ties” and “The Schmock”, both first published in SAND, Berlin’s English Literary Journal.


[click to listen]

Freedom Ties

My written pieces are necessarily very short because life is very short. This suggests that we should pay attention to the tiniest details. I saw a man today with extraordinarily precise dimples in his chin. It reminded me of the elevator scene in Charade, which in turn reminded me of Cary Grant’s complexion and of the way people used to dress. I wore a suit today and a pink shirt and I took my tie off in front of a large crowd. It was weird, I felt like Cary Grant. Coincidentally there was a woman in the first row who had Audrey Hepburn’s eyes. When I spoke, she rolled them to the ceiling and back. I felt strongly like interrupting my speech to ask her why she did it. On my way home, I noticed barb wire on the top of a house: it did not make any sense there. Not that barbed wire makes any sense anywhere. It seemed to have been dropped there by a mad flying policeman. I think we’re being watched from the air all the time. I don’t mind. When I took my tie off, my neck yawned with relief. I hung that tie in the window as a message for everyone that freedom is still a possibility.

[click to listen]

The Schmock

The Schmock greeted his fate with perfect equanimity. He’d begun the day by shooting six Chechnyan gangsters and now he was going to have a hearty breakfast. The bandits stood in the entrance to a house that the Schmock had a right to enter. They felt uneasy and touched their gold watches for good luck when one of them uttered the view that crime didn’t pay, and uneasier still when another openly doubted the morality of their nightshade lives. It was then somewhat of a relief when the Schmock ended them with one round of tungsten Sierra bullets all to the head.

The words “Factory of Blind Infants” on the inside jacket of the breviary found at the murder scene didn’t mean anything to any of the policemen in attendance.


Both of these stories came out of daily neighborhood observations: the idea for ‘Freedom Ties‘ goes back to a conference talk where I, in order to stir a stiff audience up a bit, took my tie off at the beginning of my speech (on social media and e-publishing). On the way home, I couldn’t get Cary Grant out of my head (who wouldn’t have approved of my removing the necktie—you know what a fashion stickler he was) & when I noticed barb wire on a building, the story came together as a story about man’s freedom. Of course, you’re free, too, to read it any way you like…

…as for ‘The Schmock‘, similar story: I had just come from my doctor where I’d received good news regarding a nasty-looking mole (hypochondriac’s unite!) … so death was on my mind. As I was cycling home (there is a lot of bicycle traffic in my Kiez in Berlin, especially in summer—it’s the vehicle of choice for short & medium distances), I noticed a group of men in black suits loiter in a house entrance, and the possibility of death in connection with the strange suits created the story almost as you see it here, literally in one flash.

NRA members! There are no “tungsten Sierra bullets”, as you well know. There’s however, a tool company, Sierra Tools, that produces cutters made of tungsten. Chechens!—no offense: your recent violent history with Russia made me think of your ethnicity. The “Factory of Blind Infants”, which made its first appearance in another set of prose poems, “Rites of Spring“, was added on a whim to underline the obscurity of the crime scene…I had originally planned to write a novella about this ominous ‘factory’, but so far this has remained a plan and a handful of flashes. — ‘The Schmock’ was favorably reviewed by Sam Rasnake (for my alter ego Finnegan Flawnt):

«The piece – “The Schmock greeted his fate with perfect equanimity.” […] fully exemplifies to my eye and ear the written landscape that is uniquely Flawnt’s.  Wonderful rhythms and imagery – and a matter-of-fact style that overwhelms the reader.  Strong writing.  Love the closing of this piece.  “The words ‘Factory of Blind Infants’ on the inside jacket of the breviary found at the murder scene didn’t mean anything to any of the policemen in attendance.”  Perfect.»

If you enjoyed the audio versions of these stories, or if you have a freakish propensity towards foreign tongues, you can also listen to the German versions of these stories, as “Der Schmock” (The Schmock) and “Das Schriftstück” (Freedom Ties). It is really quite extraordinary to compare the sounds of stories in English and German. I’m always astonished myself.

The English stories are included in my debut collection, “Thank You For Your Sperm” forthcoming from MadHat Press. You can like TYFYS on Facebook or Google+ (or both), and very soon you should be able to place an order for yourself, for you friends, or for your friendly birth partner…

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