The book of photos and texts is dedicated to the Thomas Mann House in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. Francis Nenik’s essay offers the first detailed description of the history of the house in which Thomas Mann lived with his family from 1942 to 1952 during his period of exile in the U.S. Basing his work on extensive archival research, Nenik not only recounts episodes from the family’s life but also introduces characters who have hitherto been largely unknown—the people who built the house and worked in it. Their experiences, some of them extremely colourful, create the panorama against which the story of the house unfolds.
Sebastian Stumpf’s photographs act as a counterpoint to this. In January 2017 he gained access to the vacant property, which had recently been bought by the German government, and captured it in its inbetween state in a series of distinctive pictures. They show a deserted house that has morphed and grown in on itself, leaving precious little to suggest that the Mann family had once lived there.
So durchstreift Nenik mit viel Witz ein Umfeld, das Katia und Thomas Mann in den Jahren ihres Exils nur am Rande wahrnahmen. […] Bleibt die Frage, wer sich eigentlich hinter dem Pseudonym Francis Nenik verbirgt. Schreibt er weiter so erstaunliche Bücher wie "Seven Palms" oder die ebenfalls in diesem Jahr erschienene Romanbiografie "Das irrwitzige Leben des Hasso Grabner", wird man irgendwann dahinter kommen wollen.