Antoine Catel’s love letter to his missing little sister

Benjamin Auffret and Antoine Catel dive during the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix 3m synchronized springboard finals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 11, 2013. (AL BELLO / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP)

Until then, diving did not scare him. It was even his specialty. Antoine Catel, now 30 years old, won medals in the “3m synchronized springboard”. He was an amphibious athlete. A little bird, a little merfolk. And then one day, he lost his footing and nearly drowned. An unfathomable sadness sucked him down. He even thought of ending his life, letting himself sink. It was four months after the disappearance of her younger sister, whose first name, Laure, will not be learned until the last line of the book, of her first book: “White fire”. (Calmann-Lévy, 19.50 euros).

Laure was 23 when she succumbed to an overdose. She was a cocaine addict, bipolar, and in her third year of medical school. She loved “Lili” by Aaron, “Lady in White in the Garden” by Monet, “Grapes of Wrath” by Steinbeck, “Alcools” by Apollinaire, playing the piano and her brother Antoine. On the cover page of her red notebook, she had copied this refrain from a song by Saez: This world is not for me, this world is not mine. »

“A Compressed Eternity”

As soon as she was born in Africa, and because her childish gaze was disconcertingly intense, neighbors nicknamed her ” Old “. But the old woman would not grow old. Too busy she was wasting her life. Or rather to engulf it, under the distraught eyes of his diver brother. For a long time, the family had lived in Mauritania, then Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, where the mother, a specialist in bats, was a veterinarian and the father taught mechanics. After the latter’s death from a lung infection, his widow and their four children – two boys and two girls – returned to France. The suicidal mother plunged into alcohol, Antoine into the basins and Laure into the powder. Twice, she followed detoxification cures, from which she came out to better give in once again to her demons, at the rate of a “ten traces of coke in a single day”by which she accessed a “compressed eternity”.

Today, Antoine Catel ended his diving competitions. He carried out humanitarian missions in the sub-Saharan Africa of his childhood. One imagines that he is looking for traces of his sister, of his little old woman, whom he says she had “an inner wealth as vast as a suffocated civilization, a night volcano”. But the sand erased them. So he keeps them in notebooks, from which this dizzying book is taken. Dive into it.

white fireby Antoine Catel, Calmann-Lévy, 162 p., 19.50 euros.

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Source : Nouvelobs

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