Award-winning essayist, screenwriter and novelist Richard (Charity, 1997, etc.) revisits his life and career, recording how Christianity has played an ever enlarging role.
The author zooms through his remarkably busy life in fewer than 200 pages, employing second-person pronouns throughout, the you almost always referring to the author—e.g., “The first time you are arrested is for assaulting a police officer.” Born in Louisiana, Richard had a skeletal malformation that required many surgeries, well into adulthood (some paid for by Jacqueline Onassis). His father worked in the lumber industry and always had great, unrealized plans. Richard’s mother bought him piles of library books during his long periods of recovery in bed. School did not appeal to him (many of his teachers believed him “special”—and not in a positive way), but he staggered through high school and beyond, worked a motley assortment of summer jobs and drifted into substance abuse, crime and disarray. (At times, Richard sounds like a Southern version of Frederick Exley.) A voracious reader and a wannabe writer, he possessed talent and enjoyed the good fortune of meeting writers like Walker Percy, Reynolds Price and Truman Capote. Esquire editor Rust Hills helped him, and, slowly, his career emerged. He eventually married, had children, earned success, some fame and many sojourns in Hollywood. God appears in the story early and increasingly often. Richard credits much of his good fortune to the Lord, suggests angels saved him from a mugging and believes—though never says directly—that he is Chosen. The memoir ends with his heavy financial and emotional investments in the House of Prayer Holiness Church, a small African-American church in Virginia, a place frequented by his mother.
Amazing and alarming, though dripping at times with the treacle of a personal-redemption memoir.