The Urses Next Door
Alex Capus, an author whose inimitable style — a subtle blend of pragmatism and sensitivity — continues to captivate readers all over the world, lives in the loveliest little town in the universe. Life there is ordered, predictable and peaceful — or it would be if it wasn’t for the neighbours’ censorious watchfulness.
The place Alex Capus likes to be more than anywhere is at home in Olten. He has five neighbours, all of whom are called Urs. Actually there are six, but one of them refuses to let Capus write about him, so to all intents and purposes there are only five. On mild summer evenings he meets them in the gravelled town square to grill sausages and set the world to rights. “No one actually likes wild garlic,” says Urs number 1. “You only eat it because it’s there. It’s like elevator music; you can’t avoid the stuff!” And Urs number 2 reproaches Capus for his slapdash appearance: "It’s none of my business, really, but your hair isn’t one thing or the other. It’s neither long nor short. And as for your clothes… well, the less said about that, the better…”
Sometimes Capus gets fed up with his Urses, at which point he might find himself spending an afternoon with Prince Charles in the Bernese Oberland or stranded in the Sahara in his mint-green Renault 4.
Brimming with sparkling wit yet tactful to a fault, eminently good-natured yet mordantly remorseless, Alex Capus holds up the mirror to a run-of-the-mill small town. Like his novels, his charming little stories are underpinned by the cheerful melancholia and inexhaustible knowledge of human nature that his readers love him for.