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“One summer, I decided to no longer obey what my social environment imposed on me”

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“I was 21 when I went on a trip to Chile with Guillaume Allary. We were going to join my friend Charles Guérin-Surville, who had fled to Paraguay following a family tragedy and was criss-crossing South America. We were there to take care of him. In this photo, we had just found him.

That summer of 1994, so many things happened for the three of us… We have since remained friends. It was at this precise moment that I decided to change paths and become a writer. I had just finished Sciences Po and passed the HEC competition, but I wanted to study philosophy and write novels. I am on the left in the photo, on the right is Charles and in the middle Guillaume, then in management college at Dauphine and who, like me, wanted to branch off to enroll in philosophy and prepare for the aggregation.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers An aperitif with Charles Pépin: “True joy is a lucid joy about everything that is wrong”

It was an essential summer for my vocation, the one in which I decided to no longer obey what my social environment imposed on me, to listen to my true desire. That day, Guillaume gave me a reading feedback on what was to become my first published novel. I was very moved: I had given him my 300 printed pages before leaving and would never have imagined that he would take this cobblestone with him. In the morning, in the room of our guest house, I was therefore surprised to see him take my fully annotated text out of his backpack.

knowing look

A few hours later, while we were splashing around in hot springs that smelled very strongly of sulphur, at the top of a volcano, Guillaume made a harsh comeback on my work that hurt me a lot. He told me that I had to dig deeper for a truth to seek in the depths of my intimacy and that I had to think more about the reader when I wrote. These are always the two remarks he makes to me when I return a text to him. His reviews that summer foreshadowed those I would receive throughout my life.

“Since then, we have released ten books together and Guillaume has not changed, he does not take a thousand tweezers when he gives his opinion. »Charles Pepin

It was not a first either: as a teenager, it was to him that I made my poems and my first novel read. He has always had a very keen eye on the work of those close to him. He already possessed the soul of an editor, a mixture of benevolence and critical severity. During this founding summer, Guillaume was also taking his first steps in the profession, without knowing that he would become a publisher. [Guillaume Allary est le fondateur et PDG des éditions Allary, qui éditent aussi L’Arabe du futur, de Riad Sattouf]. As for me, living from my writing still seemed like an unattainable dream…

Finally, this book, which I had titled “Departure time, will be published in 1999 by Flammarion under the name Descent. On this occasion, I asked that Guillaume be the editor of my work. Since then, we have released ten books together and he has not changed, he does not take a thousand tweezers when he gives his opinion. He is still my editor and we keep this same relationship. To dive back into this image is to see Guillaume’s editor’s gaze, calm but judging, and mine, sure of himself but who gets slapped. It also reminds me of a forty-year friendship that allowed us to help each other change paths. »

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