@lt;b@gt;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.@lt;/b@gt;@lt;br@gt;@lt;b@gt; @lt;/b@gt;@lt;br@gt; 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and of a mother who sought inner peace through fasting, prayer, and scripture, Richard spent his bedridden childhood withdrawn into the company of books. @lt;br@gt;@lt;br@gt; 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 @lt;i@gt;Atlantic@lt;/i@gt;, 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. @lt;br@gt;@lt;br@gt; A superbly written and irresistible blend of history, travelogue, and personal reflection, @lt;i@gt;House of Prayer No. 2@lt;/i@gt; 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.