Here is an autobiographical book, in a style very different from what I usually read, darker but with a remarkable writing. Once I started it I hardly let go of it. It is " Le Lambeau " by Philippe Lançon. Lançon is a journalist at Libération and a columnist for Charlie Hebdo. He was in the newsroom on January 7, 2015 and is one of the rare survivors… He was shot twice in the hands or arms and especially one bullet in the face which tore off part of his face (jaw, lower lip…). Lançon wrote this book 3 years later, reconstructing his life from his memory, memories of his loved ones, emails, messages, everything that happened since the day before the attack.
Many pages are devoted to his convalescence, to the reconstitution of his face, from a bone and flesh from his leg (hence the title in French). The reading of these passages can be difficult, but it is extraordinarily well written, very intelligent, with backtracking, introspections, digressions on music, the arts, where we see that Lançon is a fine observer of the world around him. He knew how to make addictive the reading of a book that could have been simply descriptive or otherwise uneasy.
This book touches me enormously because Charlie Hebdo’s attack is one of the events that has traumatized me the most in recent years. I saw several of my idols disappear, Cabu of course whose comics and cartoons cradled my childhood, his appearances on television in a children’s show… Charb… and especially the atypical economist Bernard Maris whom I listened to on France Inter and whose two-volume book I had read (Antimanuel d’économie)… Maris was lying in front of Lançon, Brains exploded by a Kalashnikov bullet… Incredible and sad thing, the book ends on the day of November 13, 2015: Philippe Lançon is in New York and he learns of the attack on the Bataclan.
Three days after the end of my reading it was precisely the 4th anniversary of this attack. It’s a coincidence but it makes the reading of this book even more striking. I highly recommend it, even if the subject may seem sinister, it is incredibly well written! The 500 pages are well worth it.