by Antoine Catel
Calmann-Lévy, 234 pages, €19.50
How could the impossible become real? How could the one he loved “without reserve and beyond all reason” die at the age of 22? In a very moving first novel, Antoine Catel paints the portrait of his little sister, “the most sensitive of the siblings”, who died after two years of fighting her addiction to cocaine.
“She is intelligent, beautiful, cultured, she studies medicine, she comes from a wealthy background, she is well integrated socially, surrounded by her many friends and her family… And yet she is a drug addict. The author describes the fall of the little sister, whose name will not be revealed until the last line of the book. It says everything about the struggle, the relentlessness to get out of it, the rehabs, the relapses.
Antoine Catel also delivers his guilt. First of all to have shared its consumption, during the first evenings when they made the discovery together of this “chlorinated and incendiary material”. Then not to have realized that his youngest was sinking. Then to have thought that drug addiction was a vice, a lack of will and not a disease. And finally, the day before her death, when he had the presentiment that she was falling back, that something was wrong, for not having suggested to her, as usual, to go to the cinema, to a restaurant. To have thought of him first because, that evening, he wanted to be alone. “Without suspecting that I had perhaps missed the opportunity to save his life. »
Antoine Catel recounts with great sensitivity and mastery the grief, the impossibility of living without his sister, the horror of feeling alive when she no longer exists. The will to end it, sometimes. But Incendie blanc is above all a love story between a brother and his little sister “forever”. The one who died “surrounded by her unfinished dreams”.