A photograph of a young boy: smiling and very beautiful, still spared by life. It is not a recent document. The young boy’s sister was born the year the picture was taken and she never had it easy. She suffered at the hands of her older brother’s fits of anger and selfishness, his daily requirement for soft and then hard drugs which aged him prematurely, ravaged his face and teeth, and led to spells in prison. She knew him as someone charming yet unpredictable, magnetic but manipulative, whose essence was distilled by the promiscuity of family into painful violence. She suffered terribly because she could not fight back, yet she never broke off contact and, over the years, picked him back up from his worst excesses and was by his side even in the final hospital. When he was gone she felt she could draw breath. Breathe, but with a sense of guilt.
Her anger was a form of protection for a long time. Anger that she kept tightly shut away for a long time. Anger that was a pain she kept to herself. Until the day she tried to find that childhood face, his, the face of someone long gone… if not to forgive, at least to make peace through her writing.
In A Young Boy, Catherine Vigourt achieves a particularly sensitive form of writing. She revisits family life with lucidity and a sense of decency to reveal a very private disaster, the sort that leaves permanent bruises on the soul. Her text exudes a tremendous feeling of strength and hard-won appeasement.
Catherine Vigourt works as a teacher near Paris. She has written a collection of short stories and several novels (La Vie de préférence, Flammarion, 1997; Le Paradis pour tous, Stock, 1998; La Maison de l’Américain, Plon, 2000; and Côté nord, Calmann-Lévy, 2004).
Elle a terriblement souffert de ne pouvoir lutter ; elle n’a pourtant jamais rompu le lien, au fil des années, rattrapant les mauvais coups du frère, l’accompagnant jusqu’au dernier hôpital. Lorsqu’il est parti, il lui a semblé qu’elle pouvait souffler. Respirer, avec culpabilité.
Longtemps la colère fut une protection. Une colère fortement, longuement rentrée. Une colère qui est une douleur gardée pour soi. Jusqu’au jour où elle a cherché à retrouver le visage de l’enfance, le sien, celui d’un être disparu, sinon pour lui pardonner, du moins faire la paix à travers l’écriture.