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.)
It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
“An ambidextrous cardsharp, who took losing as a personal insult; a proletarian agitator, who dressed like a dandy; a germ-fearing hypochondriac, smoking 100 cigarettes a day; a lady-killer with rotten teeth, causing a string of abortions wherever he went.” On the Soviet poet Mayakovksy.
The cuddle trumps sodomy! At The New York Times, the controversial post-feminist Katie Roiphe explores the difference between the descriptions of sex in the last generation of American male novelists (Philip Roth, John Updike, Norman Mailer) and the current generation (David Foster Wallace, Benjamin Kunkel, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer).