Sunday , June 13 2021

"We all tell the story of our life"

The writer Alex Capus is the father of five children and operator of the Galica Bar in Olten. Photo: Ayse Yavas

The writer Alex Capus is the father of five children and operator of the Bar of Galicia in Olten. Photo: Ayse Yavas

How does one become a writer? "Who loses the obvious, depends especially on the orientation," responds Alex Capus. He was doubly plucked by parents' divorce and the passage from Paris to Olten as a child, since the letter helped him feel his identity.

Interview: Mathias Morgenthaler and Viviane Vonlanthen

Mr. Capus, you do everyday things like removing junk glass from an event because of the writer's special appearance. Did you get a lot like a journalist in the SDA news agency from an early age?

ALEX CAPUS: No, at all. The SDA was something like the Ministry of Truth, why should I suffer?

Because you usually have to limit yourself to a news agency for the reproduction of facts and I can hardly tell stories. Thomas Bernhard is known to enrich the truth as a journalist.

I consider the most important and honest journalism to inform clearly and intelligently what happened when and where. I am grateful today that I could contribute and I would do it again at any time. And I do not see a great contrast to my current activity. Fiction must also be true so that it is fit.

As a writer of historical novels you know a great audience. Are not historians and novelists always at war with each other?
Historic narratives are really a delicate thing. The historian is doomed to lift the fact. As soon as he explains and says, he slips towards the interpretation, to the subjective, leaves the field of science. That's why the historian needs the narrator so that his material covers life. Life itself does not tell stories, meanders, drags, leaves. It takes the viewer's eye to see or create a structure in this lack of form. No narrator no history. Regardless of whether we write books, we all have the story of our lives, adapting a version to feel our identity.

And who does a career need a lot of guidance?

That is true for me. He was an immigrant child, he arrived at Olten at the age of five in Paris. After separation, my mother moved to Switzerland to work again as a teacher. At first I did not understand what was going on, because we were leaving our beloved grandmother, my basic trust was shaken and I had to learn the language of the other children. Probably it is not by chance that many writers have a history of migration. Any person who loses the obvious is particularly dependent on the orientation, in the stories. That is why I started writing as soon as I knew all the letters and never stopped them again. How Uprooted had to find my place and claim. Who is called Affolter or Nünlist does not have to affirm in Olten, the city belonged to her for 500 years. But if it's called Checchini or Capus, then you have to work hard. Due to divorce and movement, it was doubly uncertain and doubly prepared to do it well to be recognized.

He has five children with his wife, he runs Barra de Galicia here in Olten, and his penultimate book simply says: "Life is good". This seems almost a wild world.

This title has always been misunderstood. I do not say that life is just beautiful. We all have to die, many get sick and suffer terribly. But when we make peace, life is good. It is important for me that we reflect on the fragile that is most precious and that we should take care of important things. Our time will be judged very severely by the successive generations as a superficial season that only serves its own hedonism and likes more trees than it planted. If you are fifty years old, you can trade your wife for two 25-year-old children, waiting for some fun. This is not my world. My world is this oak parquet here that we find under linoleum. You can not buy an apartment with this skate, just preserve it. If you do not care about this bar here, it will soon look like the building across the street, cold, without character, without memory. I received money more often, but I will not buy or give this bar, just like my Töff, who is still seven years older than me.

Maybe he was a better writer if he did not even have a bar.

I am fortunate to be able to organize my life as it suits me. I do not have to do anything I do not want, and I like what my three main activities are like. When writing I am completely by myself and I do not want to distract it. There is only my thoughts, my feelings, my work in the text. In the family of seven, on the other hand, there is always something that happens. They are not so terribly important. Being able to forget is a blessing to have the glass of humble waste, bring peace of mind. By the time I found myself particularly important, I suffered more. In the bar, after all, we have to deal with, since they are also cleaning and craftsmanship, and sometimes people tell me their life story at the end of the night. If he had knit in a different way and could focus on writing, he would surely write other books. If this would be better, I do not know, maybe on the contrary. Just writing would be too little for me, too much adjunct life. And he could be happy without writing.

Do you always write at the same time or according to the time of leisure and inspiration?

When I start a book, I work very disciplined. In the morning, when the five children and my wife are out of the house, I feel and write. This usually lasts until lunch together. Most often they are not very productive in the afternoon. Sometimes, I do not get up in the morning either, so I'm going to take a walk or go to buy spaghetti. Meanwhile, I can do it without being angry with me. I know that being unproductive is part of the creative process, as is the regeneration of elite sports.

Part 2 of the interview It will be published this week in a week.

The new book: Alex Capus: children of the king. Hanser-Verlag 2018.

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