Selected from the country’s leading literary journals and publications—Colorado Review, Creative Nonfiction, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, The Normal School, and others—Beautiful Flesh gathers eighteen essays on the body, essentially building a multi-gender, multi-ethnic body out of essays, each concerning a different part of the body: belly, brain, bones, blood, ears, eyes, hair, hands, heart, lungs, nose, ovaries, pancreas, sinuses, skin, spine, teeth, and vas deferens. The title is drawn from Wendy Call’s essay “Beautiful Flesh,” a meditation on the pancreas: “gorgeously ugly, hideously beautiful: crimson globes embedded in a pinkish-tan oval, all nestled on a bed of cabbage-olive green, spun through with gossamer gold.”
Other essays include Dinty W. Moore’s “The Aquatic Ape,” in which the author explores the curious design and necessity of sinuses; Katherine E. Standefer’s “Shock to the Heart, Or: A Primer on the Practical Applications of Electricity,” a modular essay about the author’s internal cardiac defibrillator and the nature of electricity; Matt Roberts’s “Vasectomy Instruction No. 7,” in which the author considers the various reasons for and implications of surgically severing and sealing the vas deferens; and Peggy Shinner’s “Elective,” which examines the author’s own experience with rhinoplasty and cultural considerations of the “Jewish nose.” Echoing the myriad shapes, sizes, abilities, and types of the human body, these essays showcase the many forms of the genre: personal, memoir, lyric, braided, and so on.
Contributors: Amy Butcher, Wendy Call, Steven Church, Sarah Rose Etter, Matthew Ferrence, Hester Kaplan, Sarah K. Lenz, Lupe Linares, Jody Mace, Dinty W. Moore, Angela Pelster, Matt Roberts, Peggy Shinner, Samantha Simpson, Floyd Skloot, Danielle R. Spencer, Katherine E. Standefer, Kaitlyn Teer, Sarah Viren, Vicki Weiqi Yang