“I shouldn’t have watched that old Charles Bronson film.
In a shabby hotel room, a man meticulously prepares an attack. The minutes drag by as, from inside the window, he watches the flat opposite that, come nightfall, he intends to blow up. This lasts a quarter of an hour, without a word of dialogue.
Since then, I have seen all of them, again and again: Once Upon a Time in the West, Death Wish, Machine-Gun Kelly… I went to Pennsylvania, where, as an adolescent during the Great Depression, he worked as a coal miner to provide for his family, and on to Hollywood, where, having become the highest-paid actor in the world, he ended up a recluse in a mansion.
At each stage of my quest, I came across the traces of the dead, not those from his screen adventures but of real corpses: belonging to members of his family, his friends, his entourage. The tough guy, the Indian with the stony smile was none other than a man haunted by fear. I reached thus far when, immersed in the archives of an American daily newspaper, I read the following sentence in the middle of an article: “If the dead could speak, they would have Charles Bronson’s voice.” It was at that point, I think, that our lives began to intertwine.”
Arnaud Sagnard is a journalist. Editor in chief of the weekly French news magazine, L’Obs, he is the author of Vous êtes sur la liste? Enquête sur la tyrannie des branchés (Editions du Moment). Bronson is his first novel.