Television, cinema, literature and radio, with and through them, Carlo Lucarelli told and continues to tell stories of yesterday and today, in which the mystery weaves the threads of the past with those of the present. And it is among the meshes of this spiderweb made of words, sounds and images, that take shape and substance so much the true stories – often cursed – as those born from his pen. Here the characters try to wriggle, some of whom entered a tense leg in the common imaginary, of his stories, including the Commissioner De Luca, protagonist of the latest novel titled “Peccato Mortale” (published by Einaudi). We met him in Como in the occasion of the presentation of the book at the 28th Noir in Festival. Recently we saw him on Sky Art in the new format “Inseparabili. Vite all’ombra del genio”, written and conducted by himself, in which he faces the lives of characters in the shadow of great artists.
by Francesco Del Grosso
What does Commissioner De Luca differentiate from the other existing literary characters?
From the point of view of character and aesthetic I think he is similar to many other characters. As a result, he is no different from the wonderful ones – like Montalbano, Ricciardi or Schiavone – born from the feathers of colleagues. De Luca is one of them, but he has his own specificity, namely the relationship with history and politics that leads him to be a policeman in an era, that of the Regime, where it is difficult to do your job, because you have other nature. The latter put him in the condition of being always blackmailed and compromised, because he did things in the past that prevent him from doing what he would do well in the present. De Luca’s problem is very complex to manage and is political and existential at the same time.
Why are the stories you tell and your gaze often turned to the past?
Through the past it is possible to understand the present, because sometimes it is difficult to interpret it because of its proximity, of the fact that we are part of it and of a whole series of directly or involuntarily political considerations that would distract. Then it is easier to turn the telescope on the other side, move away and see things from another point of view. This leads me to staging the mechanisms of the past because they somehow have to do with the present, otherwise it would not make sense to tell only stories of yesterday. The past in general is most often unknown, so many interesting things to discover and very fascinating to explore are discovered.
What makes your characters so popular?
The fact that they are very contradictory figures or have been witnesses of stories that were important in those moments. The Inspector Coliandro, for example, that became very popular especially on television, came out in a period when there was a sort of movement within the noir that told the Italian metropolis in a certain way. When you have a losing character, honest, but full of flaws like him, here it immediately becomes an interesting character. In general, obsession and contradiction are the ingredients that give substance to a character.
In the rich gallery of the characters you’ve created, which one has not been fully understood?
I think the deputy commissioner Marino of “Indagine non autorizzata”, I would like to go back to writing because I liked him a lot. In my opinion he is a character with interesting developments with his personality as a small man, who fails to realize, but who understands many things.
You have and you continue to tell of individual and collective fears, but what is scary to Lucarelli?
Until a short time ago I would have answered the crabs [he smile], that physically make me very afraid, in addition to the usual things: death, injustice, etc… Now, remaining in a social and historical, I am very scared of the fold that it could take the world: more isolationist, bad, armed and sovereign. Now that I have two little girls, other fears have arisen in me, such as that they can suffer what my grandparents and parents suffered, that is the war.
About fears, have you ever dealt with what terrifies most of the writers, or the so-called white sheet?
The white sheet remains so until you have written the first word and even if you have deleted the mechanism, however, has started. Giorgio Scerbanenco used to say: «You feel the need to write, to have pleasure. Even to iron a pile of linen, or to knit with needles you have to feel like and please, otherwise you work badly and you are wrong. It is not the inspiration that is missing from the poet who looks at the blue sky, it’s the desire». This means that if you are a storyteller, as he was and as I hope I am, of ideas, suggestions and things that happen, you must have many in mind. Stories to put on cards there are always, the problem if anything is to understand how to start them. In short, the classic «it was a dark and stormy night».
How is your creative flow born?
There are three things that must fit together to start the engine. The first is something that attracts my attention, that can be an image, a news or a feeling related to the moment I’m living and I’d like to tell. At the same time, a temporal or environmental frame must be formed to place the whole. And obviously there must be one of my characters, old or new, through which to give form and substance to the story.
Do you usually create expectations for the current reader?
No, because I understand that it must not be done. Like others who think the same way we always use the metaphor of Borges to answer this question: «When I write I know I have a reader behind me, but I don’t turn to look at him». It is clear that we write for someone, but if in doing so we have to think of a specific reader, then we will stop immediately because of a whole series of limitations.
Is there a moral limit that should not be exceeded when violence is staged?
In my opinion there is no moral limit, only artistic and creative. One should ask first of all why I am telling something in a certain way. Do blood and violence really serve or are they fine elements to themselves? This is the right question to ask yourself before starting to write.
Why does the design of evil fascinate and attract people more than good?
It is a technical explanation: when you tell the evil, you generally face mechanisms that are mysterious. In narrative the mystery always works, for this we are more interested in the Strega and not in Biancaneve and the reason that leads the first to hate the second. And that’s what we want to know.
Is there a story or a specific news story that you regret having told?
It never happened, even when on television I found myself facing news events of a more historical dimension, from private crimes to Ustica. This is because I was lucky enough to meet stories that I wanted to tell and I was given the opportunity to do so freely. I’ve never been forced to do otherwise.
With “Blu notte” you have brought a careful, respectful and intelligent way of reporting on television. How do you think the modus operandi has changed for good or bad?
The press in the past used to beat the monster on the front page and even went so far as to publish the photo of the murdered dead on duty with the body torn apart and covered with blood. Then, since the seventies, there has been some sort of regulation concerning both newspapers and television. Now there has been a mutation through a process of liberalization of the news, many things have been cleared, the reins have been loosened again and there is less modesty. All while always respecting an ethics and rules. Today we choose not to show certain things, but at the same time we try to evoke them. In my opinion this is a wrong way to report.
Credits Press Office Literature Noir in Festival: Paolo Soraci