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.)
Janet Reitman, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, spent five years researching Inside Scientology, which is reviewed here by Brook Wilensky-Lanford for The San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this year, ‘Million Dollar Baby‘-screenwriter Paul Haggis spoke with Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker about L. Ron Hubbard‘s religion.
When Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t writing Sherlock Holmes, he was a practicing doctor. Thomas Goetz’s new book The Remedy discusses the history of tuberculosis and Doyle’s role in finding a cure with Robert Koch. The Daily Beast interviewed Goetz about how he came up with the idea for the book. “These two characters were part of a much larger story about how scientific discoveries evolve into social change.”
Gearing up for his forthcoming retrospective at the Tate Modern, Damien Hirst told the Guardian that he “still believe[s] art is more powerful than money.” This from the man whose tiger shark and formaldehyde sculpture “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” sold for $12 million– the figure that Don Thompson reports in The $12 Million Stuffed Shark.
One of the more common questions that comes up in The Nervous Breakdown’s self-interviews is what the subjects consider to be the hardest part of the writing life. The most recent edition sees Jac Jemc, whose latest came out last week, admit that time is what foils her: “Everything takes longer than I think it will, more drafts than I think it will.” This might be a good time to look back on some earlier examples of the form.
“It is so chic to be an author. To be known for one’s writing is to be truly known, do you not think?” Mindy Kaling states in the beginning of B.J. Novak’s French New Wave satire book trailer. Novak isn’t just Ryan from The Office, he also writes fiction. His short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, will be out February 4th, but in the meantime, you can read an excerpt at NPR.