Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stephanie Feldman's "The Angel of Losses"

Stephanie Feldman studied writing at the University of Pennsylvania and Barnard College. NPR calls her first novel, The Angel of Losses, "a breathtakingly accomplished debut" and The Washington Post describes it as "a journey of fantastic tales, stormy family ties and a tragic discovery of redemption that will break your heart." Barnes & Noble has named the book a Discover Great New Writers selection for fall 2014. Feldman lives outside Philadelphia with her family and is at work on a new novel.

Here Feldman dreamcasts an adaptation of The Angel of Losses:
I’ve always thought casting sounds like fun job, and what’s more fun than casting your own story? Or, more difficult? It’s tougher than I expected to put aside my mental images of the characters in The Angel of Losses. None of these actors look like the people I imagined as I wrote, but they’re all great, and could do the story justice.

My narrator, Marjorie, is a young graduate student writing a dissertation about a 200-year-old ghost story. She's a workaholic and a loner, but she's also fiercely protective of the people she loves. At the beginning of the story, however, Marjorie’s estranged from her younger sister Holly, who has converted to Orthodox Judaism and married a man her family despises. Holly was once the cheerful, easy-going one, but Holly’s no longer so flexible and forgiving.

They don’t look alike, but I can imagine Anna Kendrick and Tatiana Maslany as the sisters. My first instinct is Tatiana Maslany as Marjorie—she could capture her nuances and strength, and communicate the turbulent feelings that Marjorie’s unable to express in words. On top of that, she has the hair. But then I thought of how Anna Kendrick can throw a great nasty look, and also convey the sweetness that belies Marjorie’s harsher tendencies. I think about Marjorie first only because she’s the narrator. I can see both actresses as Holly, as well.

Then there's Holly's husband, Nathan, a prickly devotee of a mystical sect dedicated to angel-magic. I'm going to give this part to Ben Feldman (no relation), who plays Ginsberg on Mad Men. He doesn't look the way I pictured Nathan, but he can portray an intensity that goes to the edge of sanity. He would also bring some charm and warmth to a challenging man.

One last actor: Early in the story, Marjorie finds that she’s being followed by a mysterious old man who claims to have known her grandfather Eli. The first actor who comes to mind is Ian Holm, mostly because of that one moment in The Fellowship of the Ring when he—as Bilbo Baggins—sees the ring, and transforms from innocent to monstrous and back again in an instant.
Visit Stephanie Feldman's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Angel of Losses made Nicole Hill's list of five of the best new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: The Angel of Losses.

Writers Read: Stephanie Feldman.

--Marshal Zeringue