This is a compliment. To Feel Stuff is about a
Plunged into a new world fraught with doubt, he tu
Meanwhile, an inquisitive doctor named Mark Kirschling devotes himself to Elodie’s case. I won’t give away his findings, but what begins as an article for the New England Jou
The book alte
Although To Feel Stuff is very different from Panda in structure and subject matter—Seigel makes the leap from Promising to Great in my book—it has at least one similar theme: Elodie looks to Chess as someone who might reside with her in her strange and often depressing world, only to discover that his fluidity between worlds is a barrier to their relationship. The same thing happens with Panda’s Stella and Ainsley. But whereas Stella never finds a way out of this dilemma, Elodie realizes—in a clever if hurried climax—that her sickness is inherently linked with her talent and, quite literally, her future. (Is this just me saying, “Andrea, are you happier these days?” If so, sorry about that.)
My only criticism of the book is that, while Dr. Kirschling’s documentation reminds us of Elodie’s illnesses, it’s hard, as a reader, to…well…feel them. Someone (I knew who during my CalArts days) wrote about how language always fails physical pain, and that failure is part of the pain of pain. I don’t expect Seigel to conquer this linguistic conundrum, but it would have helped if Elodie was a little moodier.
Still, with this book Seigel became one of a small handful of authors (Michael Cunningham, Susan Orlean and J.D. Salinger are others) who sort of take over my brain while I’m reading their work and make me feel like the world is suddenly transparent and describable. With a book about empathy and its too-real limits, she’s created the ultimate empathetic experience.
Oh, and it’s a ghost story. I love ghost stories.