“What do you want? Your boss asks you one night in a strip club. You don’t know what you want; you seem to have everything you need—job, girlfriend, car, bar, beach. Historically, as with the realtor, when your employer asks you this question, it’s always like a sign from God that you’re about to move on.
When your employer springs this question on you, historically you’ve not been smart enough to ask for a raise, you take the question literally, and you think you might want to live in New York and be a writer, even though you’ve not really thought this out and you’re a little surprised to think it to yourself at that moment.”
-House of Prayer No. 2
I don’t normally read a lot of nonfiction or memoirs, but a writer friend of mine surprised me earlier this year by sending me a book of this nature out of the blue. The book is called, House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer’s Journey Home, and it was written by a colleague of my friend’s in LA, Mark Richard. Though it took me longer than I had hoped to finish the book, this delay was not a reflection on the quality of the inspiring story.
House of Prayer No.2 is a beautifully written memoir about a man whose Southern upbringing and multiple disabilities, both physical and developmental, provided him with a perfectly unconventional backdrop for a lifetime full of creative adventures and extreme compassion for people of many different walks of life.
It is hard to imagine that from his extremely humble beginnings as a “special” child of the South Richard would become a successful Hollywood writer, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, and recipient of acts of grace and friendship from notable women such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Richard shows us through his succinct and powerful prose that life does not need to follow a linear path in order to reach success, and disability does not have to mean disabled forever. He shows us how he survived a lifetime of financial, professional, and familial challenges and hardship by using his talent, perseverance, and unwavering faith in God. From coastal Virginia, to the Florida Keys, to New York City and California, Mark Richard’s story takes us from the most backward and bigoted parts of southern Virginia and the Outer Banks, to the big-city streets of Manhattan and artsy Venice Beach. All along the way, we grow and learn with Richard, following him on his journey to becoming a masterful writer.
I, like Mark Richard, do not believe in coincidences.
You can order a copy of his remarkable story on Amazon here.