Christian Lecomte, the everyday enchanter

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A moped ride with Christian Lecomte. We dream of it for a moment, just to feel the Geneva countryside which is his kingdom. In the house where he lives with his wife, their two daughters, their chickens, their horses, their goats, he unrolls the ball of a lifetime. If we confess it like this, it is because this discreet, always on the lookout, won the Prix du Romand novel for Sleep cells (Ed. Favre).

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Consecration? Immense pride, he does not hide it. The jury is unique in that it is the youth jury. Some 500 pupils, teenagers from all over French-speaking Switzerland, voted among six books – themselves selected out of 80 titles by a reading committee. Sleep cells has been scrutinized, debated, criticized in the classes. And he won it.

This story has nerve and flights. A hero also who marks his reader. Algerian Titi, Nissam kills with a Zidane ball a paltoquet which has disrespected his sister. He flees his Parisian suburb to find an Algeria that is boiling with anger. Soon he will take up arms for Allah, and then he will hand them over in the name of human brotherhood.

What do I have in common with Nissam, my hero? Like him, I attach myself to faces to still believe in this world

Christian Lecomte

Bitumen prose

What is striking is the language, prose of asphalt and bled, humorous cock-a-donkey and tenderness. The words that the author puts in the mouth of his hero are juicy and fair. It must be said that he knows his subject. Doesn’t he write on the embers of his memories in Algeria where he lived between 2000 and 2005, then corresponding for Time and the RTS? “My fictions are always linked to current events, to the encounters I make. The absolute pleasure of writing is when the characters take you where you never thought you would go. ”

Sense of history well packaged, without flonflon or flashing. The reader of this page knows that this journalist has this talent. He likes to portray his neighbor, that is to say to draw the threads of a destiny from a handful of clues. He also likes the epic to sweep away the ordinary days. As a child, in Alençon, he already had this tendency: to dream of other lives than his own.

Every December 31, at the time of streamers and hugs, he took refuge in his room and secretly pronounced the full name of his hero, Pelé: “Edson Arantes do Nascimento”. It was his ritual. A form of magical thinking. From this glorious surname emerged a gold jersey, then a fantastic ride, that of a kid from the slums who became the paladin of the planet.

But here is Paline, a black barbet irresistible, tumbles. Our host makes the introductions. She’s a therapist bitch, he emphasizes. His wife Karinne, who is a child psychologist, calls on her in her work. This couple is united by the same attention to our weaknesses. A gentle dissent that comes from afar.

At the end of his adolescence, Christian Lecomte turns his back on the theaters of childhood, the football fields where this winger dribbled from Malabar defenders, the table tennis tables where he was often unbeatable. He studied economics, he trained above all in the nursing profession. In Paris, he is on call in a cardiac resuscitation service. But he would like other expanses, other ramdams.

So, at the first opportunity, he goes to Cambodia, in the service of a humanitarian organization. He wrote first articles for a medical journal, before working for West France, the great daily newspaper of his region. Back in France, he was stunned by the explosion of Yugoslavia in Tito, by the fury of the Serbian militias, the panic of the populations. This world in tatters that he discovered thanks to another humanitarian mission, in the wake of Bernard-Henri Lévy and Simone Veil, will soon be his.

The reporter is 35 years old, he plans to spend a fortnight in Sarajevo, he will stay there six years, as a correspondent for the World. Under his pen, the anguish of the unarmed, the maneuvers of the belligerents, the explosions that disfigure lives. Every morning, he leaves his studio in the upper part of the city, slalom from one district to another on his small bicycle in order to avoid the snipers, towards the radio and television of Sarajevo. This is where he dictates his papers. One day, a bullet mows him down in his tracks. Wounded, he was repatriated to France.

A farewell to Sarajevo

Does he hesitate to return to Bosnia then? No. The former nurse wants to testify to the repair of a country. And then he met Karinne, a humanitarian. Their nuptials are lyrical and striking as in the films ofEmir Kusturica. It trumpets, it hoots, it is the din of joy. And a farewell also to Sarajevo. Karinne is offered a mission by Terre des hommes in Algeria, her husband follows her.

“What do I have in common with Nissam, my hero?” Like him, I attach myself to faces to still believe in this world. ” In a moment, he’ll have you petting a fairy-tale white mohair kid – the whole family’s crush. On the muddy soil of the meadow, one will imagine oneself crossing the countryside on a moped with him. We would stop at the edge of a pond, we would greet the carelessness of a heron and he would take out his guitar.

He would sing Alain Souchon, one of his favorite artists. Randomly, we would ask him Jim’s Ballad. He would end up playing It’s already that and we would hum “Dreaming is already that.” Shadows would then pass, and they would be fraternal.


Profile

1957 Birth in Sarthe.

1992 Correspondent in Sarajevo for “Ouest France” and “Le Monde”.

1994 Special envoy to Rwanda.

1998 Wedding in Sarajevo, departure to Algeria for “Le Temps” and RTS.

2005 Expulsion from Algeria, settles in Geneva.


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