“With Mollie”, wall girl

The journalist of the “New Yorker” William Finnegan observes in his new book his daughter discovering herself and taming with grace and force a passion, climbing.

He chairs his daughter’s fan club. She is his heroine. At 13 years old, Mollie is neither an actress nor a singer, she climbs blocks. Twig whose ponytail beats time when she trudges, she had the reading for “principal vice” before discovering a gift for climbing walls. William Finnegan, his father, recognized journalist of New Yorker, is very small in front of this doll which climbs naturally, “Like a king salmon in green sweatpants going upstream”. He does not take his eyes off her, accompanies her in the gyms, on the rocks of Central Park or in Mexico. He admires her as much as he trembles when she no longer touches the ground. Finnegan saw and lived, however, perilous situations. His reporting on apartheid and the Mexican drug cartels put him in danger, as did his high-dose surfing since his youth. In Barbarian Days (2017, Editions du Sous-Sol), story and best- seller for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, he mixed the autobiography with the description of his obsession with this sport. With Mollie, his new book published in France by the same publisher, tells of a passing of the torch: it is Mollie now, full of grace and force, which takes risks for its own sake. The writer sees his daughter unfold. The discreet and gentle child rejected by team sports turns out to be competitive and proactive: “She had found an activity that illuminated her from the inside.” Mollie is also loyal to her neighbors; it is a Finnegan, a family whose sympathy contributes to the charm of the book. Little, the girl was for her father a “mini-sidekick”. Here she has become an independent young adult. William Finnegan and his wife Caroline made a success of their parenting trade.

Mollie leaves the nest William Finnegan “loves” climbing but does not shine in this discipline as much as on a wave. In his text, he plays on the contrast between his relative awkwardness and the skill of Mollie, who is also good at assuring others. “To ensure: this means offering protection to the climber thanks to a rope attached to the wall and passed through his harness. If the climber falls, the insurer is supposed to hold him back, as quickly as possible, thanks to what is called an ascender. ” With Mollie thus teaches the reader some escalation codes. For example once the summit is reached, “we shout“ Sec! ”. This is the word you must say in order to indicate to the person who assures you that they can reduce the length of the rope. ” Mollie is getting older, participating in competitions nationalities and befriended climbers. Delicately, she leaves the nest. The melancholy of Finnegan is all the more moving as it is restrained. When he accompanies Mollie on a “spot” in British Columbia, he observes her, at the end of the day, exchanging “texting with her boyfriend over there in the East, and there she was suddenly, mysteriously, laughing at jokes that I would never have access to.”

William Finnegan, With Mollie, translated from l ‘English (United States) by Jean Esch, illustrated by Aleksi Cavaillez, Editions du Sous-Sol, 118 pp., 16, 16 euros (ebook: 12 €).