the short story project

Nowhere Else

Julia Encke On:

Nowhere Else by Matthias Brandt

Actor and writer Matthias Brandt once described his childhood as the son of Willy Brandt as a ‘courtly situation’ – not, however, without putting his exceptional upbringing into perspective: ‘Of course it was a very unusual situation, but less unusual than you might think. My father just happened to have this funny job. I think that even if I’d grown up in different circumstances, I’d still be the same person today.’ “Nowhere” else tells the story of the first – and presumably last – night Brandt spends at his friend Holger’s. The child has trouble settling down in bed because the evening in the wonderful world of Holger has shown him where and how he really wants to live. Together with Holger’s parents, he and Holger watched Wim Thoelke’s show Three Times Nine, while eating open sandwiches with mushroom-flavoured cheese spread and salami, arranged on a platter by Holger’s mother with ‘fanned-out, semi-sliced gherkins’. Afterwards there was Neapolitan ice cream with wafers, Goldfish crackers and wine gums. Then homesickness gets the better of him. The way in which Matthias Brandt captures the closed world of the family through the child’s untrammelled gaze is particularly impressive because it is so precisely drawn. There are no superfluous words, no mannerisms, no stylistic complacency. Brandt really does get straight to the point.