Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays (Paperback)
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 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
About the Author
Stephanie G’Schwind is the editor of Colorado Review and the director of the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. She edited the anthology Man in the Moon: Essays on Fathers and Fatherhood and is the series editor for the Colorado Prize for Poetry and co-editor, with Donald Revell, of the Mountain West Poetry Series. She has worked in the publishing industry (literary, scholarly, and educational) for more than twenty years.
"[A] delightful anthology, one that anyone might use as a study of the essay as a form. . . . these essays are successful in accomplishing what G’Schwind said she hoped to accomplish, that they would not summon 'Frankenstein’s voice,' but instead becomes something united through 'hearts and bones.' For all the reasons above—that it is through our bodies we experience stories and that our bodies tell these stories—Beautiful Flesh is an extremely compelling collection, a pleasure to read."
"Self-contained units, each essay in Beautiful Flesh tells its own story. Just as individual bodies hold vastly different experiences, the narrative voices represented in the collection range in style and tone from the nonlinear to the analytical, the lyrical to the conventionally structured, the authoritative to the raw and unfiltered. . . . Despite her title for the anthology, Stephanie G’Schwind reminds us that flesh isn’t always beautiful, at least, not in the conventional sense of the word. Sometimes hearts ache, and muscles seize up, and brains draw blanks, and lungs struggle to conjure new breath. It is through these flaws—and not despite them—that we find beauty: deliberately, painstakingly, and consciously striding to survive."