The luminous tribute to Chantal Thomas’ father

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And Memories of the low tide (Threshold, 2017) was the book of the mother and the sea, the intoxication of swimming and endless beach games, we can read Of sand and snow like the father’s book. On the one hand, “daughters fused with their mother”, on the other, “daughters in love with their father. They are vigilant and distant. Keepers of a secret they know to be shared. ” With her own, Chantal Thomas lived the equipments by boat, fishing or contemplating in silent complicity the sky and the waves. Together, in Arcachon, they hurtled down the ski slope on pine needles and later, those of the Pyrenees.

Read also: Chantal Thomas picks up the shards of the world

In this childhood, there are inexhaustible reserves of physical happiness – wild games in the large dune, summers at Cap Ferret, dazzling snow, autumns in the countryside with the cows. He still had an appetite for life, an aptitude for wonder. But when her father “died of silence” at the age of 43, a stone sorrow froze in the teenager, leaving an impregnable bottom of melancholy.

Scholarly wanderings

Of sand and snow, the flow of these two elusive, evanescent materials, “scansions of silences and emptiness”, lends the story its fluidity. It is a back and forth between a protected childhood, violently stopped, and a life of travels, scholarly wanderings, readings and books, as if curiosity for people and things had filled what the father may have. to be dreamed of accomplishing, in the depths of its silence.

The beautiful collection “Traits et portraits” – childhood memories, dialogue with images – lends itself particularly to Chantal Thomas’ wandering way, to her art of sequences, from a room in Cuzco to a platter of oysters shared in the Cap Ferret, from Mme du Deffand to a crab reluctant to let itself be opened. A fluid blend of elegant scholarship, curiosity, encounters and things seen. Family photos and postcards rub shoulders with the images of Allen S. Weiss – who knows how to capture the essence of Japan in the maple leaves, the snow or the refinements of his cuisine.

Bells and sutras

This journey ends in Kyoto, in a small house overlooking a temple, its garden, its cemetery – bells and sutras. It’s winter, the red maple leaves line the streets, the traveler slips them into her books, in search of the perfect shape. “I belong to the age of picking,” diagnoses the one who filled her bundle of words, sentences, turns and images.

Read also: Chantal Thomas: “In 1976, in New York, I started to breathe”

As the new year approaches with the return of the fateful date of the father’s death, it is the evil aura of Kyoto that embraces him, until the snow comes to light up the year nine. And as a naïve postcard found at the back of a second-hand tea room says: “Every day – there seems to be / Something wonderful to see!”: Every day brings a new wonder.

Chantal Thomas
Of sand and snow
Mercure from France
Coll. Traits and Portraits, 208 p.