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House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Homeby Mark Richard
Synopses & Reviews
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 religiousfervor.
Called a special child, Southern social code for mentally--and physically--challengedchildren, 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and of amother who sought inner peace through fasting, prayer, and scripture, Richard spent his bedridden childhood withdrawn into the company ofbooks.
As a young man, Richard, defying both his doctors and parents, set out to experience as much of the world as he could--as adisc jockey, fishing trawler deckhand, house painter, naval correspondent, aerial photographer, private investigator, foreign journalist, bartender and unsuccessful seminarian--before his hips failedhim. 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 nationalfiction contest launching a career much in the mold of Jack London and Mark Twain.
A superbly written and irresistible blend of history, travelogue, and personalreflection, 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 painfuldisability. Written with humor and a poetic force, this memoir is destined to become a modern classic.
From the Hardcover edition.
The PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author of Charity shares the story of his youth in Virginia, describing his relationship with his temperamental ex-NASA employee father and spiritually restless mother, the misdiagnosis that categorized him as developmentally disabled and the short story that unexpectedly launched his career.
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 popu-lated 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 investi-gator, 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 fic-tion contest. The prize launched a career, which allowed him to explore Europe and, much to the reader's amuse-ment, 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 his-tory, travelogue, and personal reflection, House of Prayer No. 2 is a singular and revealing portrayal of a writer's evolution.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
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