Mark Richard: "House of Prayer No. 2"

 - Jeff Vespa

Jeff Vespa

Mark Richard: "House of Prayer No. 2"

A short-story writer reflects on his childhood in a small, racially divided Southern town in the 1960s. How he overcame physical deformity and poverty to become a journalist, author and Hollywood screenwriter.

Writer Mark Richard is best known for his fiction and award-winning short stories. But as is often the case, his own story is perhaps equally compelling. He grew up in the 1960s in a racially divided rural town in Virginia. His family was poor. He was born with deformed hips and spent years in and out of charity hospitals. When his father walked out, his mother withdrew further into a world of faith. In a new memoir he details growing up in the American South as a “special child” and how the racial tensions and religious fervor of his home town animate his writing today.


Mark Richard

author of two award-winning short story collections, "The Ice at the Bottom of the World" and "Charity." He is also the author of the novel "Fishboy." He is the recipient of a PEN/Hemingway Award, among other honors.

Listener Questions

Mark Richard stayed for a few minutes after the show to answer a few more listener questions.

  1. Q: "Did you enjoy college? Was it difficult?"

- From Dick

A: "I enjoyed the small classes and the great teachers, but never really fit in with the frat system. Part of this was probably my own rebelliousness - I was pretty angry and wild at the time. In retrospect, I really wish I'd applied myself and paid more attention, but I guess that's life. I did make some good friends, including Temp Webber, himself an outsider of sorts, and guys like Bob Lutz and Ben Brockenbrough."

Q: "What a beautiful story. Mark's simple way of expressing himself brought tears to my eyes...Thank you."
- From Althea

A: "Thank you. Yes, I have been blessed with a praying mother, and have learned that the best thing one can do as a parent is pray for your children and try to lead them on a spiritual path, and also importantly, to try to be a good example. Hard to do!"

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