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House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home

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House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home Cover

ISBN13: 9780385513029
ISBN10: 038551302x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this otherworldly memoir of extraordinary power, Mark Richard, an award-winning author, tells his story of growing up in the American South with a heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor.

 

   Called a “special child,” Southern social code for mentally—and physically—challenged children, Richard was crippled by deformed hips and was told he would spend his adult life in a wheelchair. During his early years in charity hospitals, Richard observed the drama of other broken boys’ lives, children from impoverished Appalachia, tobacco country lowlands, and Richmond’s poorest neighborhoods. The son of a solitary alcoholic father whose hair-trigger temper terrorized his family, and of a mother who sought inner peace through fasting, prayer, and scripture, Richard spent his bedridden childhood withdrawn into the company of books.   

   As a young man, Richard, defying both his doctors and parents, set out to experience as much of the world as he could—as a disc jockey, fishing trawler deckhand, house painter, naval correspondent, aerial photographer, private investigator, foreign journalist, bartender and unsuccessful seminarian—before his hips failed him.  While digging irrigation ditches in east Texas, he discovered that a teacher had sent a story of his to the Atlantic, where it was named a winner in the magazine’s national fiction contest launching a career much in the mold of Jack London and Mark Twain. 

   A superbly written and irresistible blend of history, travelogue, and personal reflection, House of Prayer No. 2 is a remarkable portrait of a writer’s struggle with his faith, the evolution of his art, and of recognizing one’s singularity in the face of painful disability.  Written with humor and a poetic force, this memoir is destined to become a modern classic.

Review:

"In this fascinating memoir, novelist Richard (Fishboy) details a life that led him from a lurid South to the gray streets of New York City. Born with deformities that left him nearly crippled, Richard suffered medical procedures that would have done a medieval torturer proud. Richard's status as a 'special child' (it was also believed he was mentally handicapped) meant that he was further marginalized. As an outsider, Richard meets bizarre characters and finds himself in increasingly bizarre situations. As he dives into a world of crime and bad behavior, Richard hones his talent as a writer, with increasing success. Richard's flattened narrative tone suits the extreme nature of his material. He successfully weaves into his memoir recurring characters like his father, who slowly come into focus. As Richard gets older, however, characters and events blur in a mess of love affairs and crimes, shipwrecks and drug deals, and celebrities. Throughout, there's a grace to even his darkest tales. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

A memoir of extraordinary power by an award-winning author. Mark Richard tells the story of his American South, with its heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor—and of how writing helped him find his way in the world.

The only son of Cajun parents, Mark Richard grew up in Southampton County, Virginia. His father gave up a career at NASA to become a solitary forester, whose flashes of wit were matched only by his hair-trigger temper. Mark’s mother was often preoccupied with moody searches for spiritual enlightenment. Their son was born with hip defects and diagnosed as retarded. Richard was called a “special child” and he spent years in charity hospitals popu­lated by children from the poorest neighborhoods.

After several surgeries, Mark became the youngest radio disc jockey in America, and later worked as a deckhand on ocean-going trawlers, an aerial photographer, private investi­gator, a bartender, and a country ham wholesaler, to name just a few. While digging irrigation ditches in east Texas, he discovered that a teacher had sent a story of his to the Atlantic, where it was named a winner in the magazine’s national fic­tion contest. The prize launched a career, which allowed him to explore Europe and, much to the reader’s amuse­ment, continue his adventures on someone else’s dime.

Finally Richard visits his hometown, where his mother is the only white congregant in a black Pentecostal church, the House of Prayer No. 2. A superbly written and irresistible blend of his­tory, travelogue, and personal reflection, House of Prayer No. 2 is a singular and revealing portrayal of a writer’s evolution.

About the Author

MARK RICHARD is the author of two award-winning short story collections, The Ice at the Bottom of the World and Charity, and the novel Fishboy. His short stories and journalism have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Vogue, and GQ. He is the recipient of the PEN/Hemingway Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Foundation Writer’s Award. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their three sons.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Madam Pince, April 5, 2011 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
While second-person narrative is difficult for most writers, Mark Richard's House of Prayer No. 2 is so compelling that the tale wouldn't sound right any other way. His memoir of being born with deformed hips in mid-50s rural Virginia is rich with description, reflection, resentment, astonishment and gratitude. From his long body-cast stays at Crippled Children's Hospital in Richmond to hauling nets on a fishing boat on the Outer Banks to an NYC writing workshop where he meets his future wife, he never stops searching for faith, for signs, for direction. It leads him back to where he began, the small southeastern Virginia town where, while financing a new church for his mother's congregation at House of Prayer No. 2, the deliverance Mark has sought is finally delivered, in all its marvelous glory.
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Ayse, February 22, 2011 (view all comments by Ayse)
An entire memoir written in second person. I think on principle most people hearing of such a thing would just say no. The guy who came up to me when he saw me reading the book at the airport said, “that would never fly in workshop” (he was coming from the same writing conference I was; I don’t think random airport travelers know about workshop). But there are a couple of reasons a book-length second person isn’t a problem, at least in this case. For one, Richard isn’t writing in scene so you don’t get awkward dialogue tags. And for another he almost never writes action. So you don’t get a lot of You do this, You do that. In fact “you” rarely starts a sentence; it is almost always buried inside. Now before you go all “show don’t tell” on me, let me explain that while Richard doesn’t write much dialogue or action (otherwise known as scene), this memoir does nothing but show. It’s just expositional showing. It’s like a memoir of every striking image, Richard has ever seen. And you quite literally see the world through his eyes, and as a result you feel like you know him intimately (probably much more so than if he gave you the usual blend of scene and reflection). Highly recommended reading.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385513029
Author:
Richard, Mark
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Richard, Mark
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Faith
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.52 x 5.9 x .86 in .8 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385513029 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this fascinating memoir, novelist Richard (Fishboy) details a life that led him from a lurid South to the gray streets of New York City. Born with deformities that left him nearly crippled, Richard suffered medical procedures that would have done a medieval torturer proud. Richard's status as a 'special child' (it was also believed he was mentally handicapped) meant that he was further marginalized. As an outsider, Richard meets bizarre characters and finds himself in increasingly bizarre situations. As he dives into a world of crime and bad behavior, Richard hones his talent as a writer, with increasing success. Richard's flattened narrative tone suits the extreme nature of his material. He successfully weaves into his memoir recurring characters like his father, who slowly come into focus. As Richard gets older, however, characters and events blur in a mess of love affairs and crimes, shipwrecks and drug deals, and celebrities. Throughout, there's a grace to even his darkest tales. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , A memoir of extraordinary power by an award-winning author. Mark Richard tells the story of his American South, with its heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor—and of how writing helped him find his way in the world.

The only son of Cajun parents, Mark Richard grew up in Southampton County, Virginia. His father gave up a career at NASA to become a solitary forester, whose flashes of wit were matched only by his hair-trigger temper. Mark’s mother was often preoccupied with moody searches for spiritual enlightenment. Their son was born with hip defects and diagnosed as retarded. Richard was called a “special child” and he spent years in charity hospitals popu­lated by children from the poorest neighborhoods.

After several surgeries, Mark became the youngest radio disc jockey in America, and later worked as a deckhand on ocean-going trawlers, an aerial photographer, private investi­gator, a bartender, and a country ham wholesaler, to name just a few. While digging irrigation ditches in east Texas, he discovered that a teacher had sent a story of his to the Atlantic, where it was named a winner in the magazine’s national fic­tion contest. The prize launched a career, which allowed him to explore Europe and, much to the reader’s amuse­ment, continue his adventures on someone else’s dime.

Finally Richard visits his hometown, where his mother is the only white congregant in a black Pentecostal church, the House of Prayer No. 2. A superbly written and irresistible blend of his­tory, travelogue, and personal reflection, House of Prayer No. 2 is a singular and revealing portrayal of a writer’s evolution.

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