In the beginning was the word, and the word was plagiarized, and this regular old plagiarism was bad. But then Jonah Lehrer taught us about self-plagiarism, and that was bad, too, but somehow less so. And now Jane Goodall is teaching us about Wikipedia plagiarism, which seems bad as well, and you know what? It’s hard to grade these things anymore. What’s next? David Bowie cribbing lines from T.S. Eliot?
Linda Chavers pens an important letter to black girls everywhere. She writes, “I am giving you the prologue. You must go forward accepting and understanding that no one will ever do it as well as you do, and no one will ever tell you that you do it better than anybody else.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
The 113th anniversary of Thomas Wolfe’s birthday was last Thursday, but the author lives on in America’s cultural memory thanks to the title of his 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. Unfortunately, the titular phrase seems to be taken at face value by many people these days, and that can lead to some groan-worthy invocations. A newly-minted Tumblr blog illustrates the point.
For its November issue, Wired asks guest editor President Obama for a list of his 10 essential books. The magazine estimates that reading all of them, including James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, will take only eighty-nine hours.
The Millions is thrilled to welcome a new staff writer, Ismail Muhammad, whose first piece for the site publishes today. (You may have seen Ismail's work at Zyzzyva and the Los Angeles Review of Books previously.) He splits his time between Los Angeles and Oakland, where he's currently working on a dissertation and a novel. Find him on Twitter @trapmotives and Instagram @trapmotifs.