Few essayists blend the cerebral and the visceral the way that Melissa Wiley does in her work. Her latest collection, Skull Cathedral: A Vestigial Anatomy brings together a host of works inspired in various ways by vestigial organs. It builds on the work in her previous collection, Antlers in Space and Other Common Phenomena, which wrestles with mortality and humanity, along with the complexities of both. I spoke with Wiley to learn more about the genesis of both books and what’s next for her.
And now we’re in the month of September. Hello, September. From our space, it seems like the summer is beginning to abate somewhat — or at least it’s moved out of the “brutally hot and humid” camp. So if you’re looking for books to bridge the gap between summer reads and something cozier, here are a couple of suggestions.
Fruitless Forest by Melissa Wiley Freddy stood behind our piano with his mouth hanging open. His face was leaning into a picture I had painted, one of a little girl seated among brown fire rising from frame’s bottom. Her cheeks were the same pale lemon as the paint tipping the flames behind her. She kept her eyes closed, impassive, never seeming to notice the conflagration.