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The Crack Magazine


Ill Feelings by Alice Hattrick

Alice Hattrick’s Ill Feelings ranges widely and rigorously through, in Susan Sontag’s words, “the night side of life” particularly as it concerns ME/CFS, an illness, “without any known cause”. Affecting both Alice Hattrick (and their mother), rage and frustration are always close to the surface as they feel, “bad, sick, wrong”, but also understand, “those ill feelings were not really my own but reflections of societal ones, which deemed people with ME/CFS as fakers, scroungers, lazy, privileged”. But along with their mother Alice isn't prepared to lie back or hide and accept what far too many have accepted as a gendered, hysterical complaint when there is sufficient evidence to show that ME/CFS is anything but. As dogged as Sherlock Holmes, with a prose style several notches silkier than Conan-Doyle Alice Hattrick follows the many leads from their childhood onwards that seem to confirm it’s a virus that can be caught like any other. Unacceptably and scarily it’s then misdiagnosed, or if diagnosed correctly, misunderstood, as this kind of illness has been for decades (with references to the chronic illnesses of, among others, Alice James, Rose la Touche and Florence Nightingale along the way). Ill Feelings belongs on the shelf with Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, Ben Watts’ Patient, Ann Boyer’s The Undying, and Jenn Ashworth’s Notes Made While Falling, because, quite simply, it’s that good.

Publ. by Fitzcarraldo Editions - £12.99

Steven Long