Sunday, December 13, 2009

" In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" by Neil White

I pride myself on being a reader who reads many different genres. It keeps me from missing out on many great reads being published in the reading world. I love memoirs that read like novels! A couple of months ago one such book was recommended to me....... " In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" by Neil White. This is an incredible book!! I met Neil White this past week at my local bookstore. He is as incredible as his book! I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him and I encouraged him to continue to write as he really has talent.
This is a picture of "Carville" in Carville, Louisiana which is the setting of the book.
Rather than write a review...... I'm adding this scripture that I think fits.....
ROMANS 8:28 " and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
And letting Neil tell you in his own words...............
In His Own Neil White
In 1993, I pled guilty to one count of bank fraud. My publishing business was running short on cash, so I kited checks as a form of bridge financing. When the FBI called, I invited them to my house, put on a pot of coffee and told them exactly what I'd been doing. " It was just business," I explained, certain they would understand.
Two weeks later, I ran into one of the FBI agents at a cocktail reception at our country club. He told me that during his 20 year career, I was one of only two criminal suspects who had not lied to him. He added that I'd still do time in federal prison.
I was never arrested, never handcuffed,never indicted and never posted bond. I signed a document accepting responsibility for my actions. Then, the judge gave me several months to get my affairs in order before I packed my bag and self surrendered at the federal prison at Carville, Louisiana. I had no idea it was an experimental prison that also housed the last leprosy patients in America.
From my first day inside, I recognized that this odd coupling- housing leprosy patients and convicts - would make a great story. In fact, as a journalist, I couldn't have dreamed up a more sensational setting. Within a week of my arrival at the colony, I made a pact with myself. I would not buy into all that inmate stuff. I would be an undercover reporter.
I carried a notebook with me at all times. I recorded events as they occurred. I had every intention of publishing an expose' on this strange government experiment upon my release.
However, as the year progressed, I learned about the plight of the leprosy patients - the very last 130 Americans to be forcibly quarantined by the government. In the most unlikely of places and among the some of the most unusual people in the world,I rediscovered the pleasures of simplicity and surrender, friendship and gratitude. Among these secret people, I found a new best friend in Ella Brown-an eighty year old, African-American, double amputee who had contracted leprosy at the age of twelve. Though not formally educated, Ella was a woman of great wisdom. As I fumed about my incarceration, struggled with my wife's decision to leave me and planned for a grand comeback, Ella guided me: sometimes directly, sometimes with story and metaphor, but mostly by how she lived. She, along with Harry and Jimmy(two life-long leprosy patients) and Doc, Link and Jefferson (inmates with provocative views), helped me to re-discover values I had ignored in my drive to succeed all all costs.
So, I simply couldn't bring myself to write the story as I'd initially intended. But I continued to take detailed notes for my entire I would never forget.
The story of my year in Carville was an extraordinary journey. I was grateful for the time I lived with the leprosy patients; appreciative of how it altered the course of my life; indebted to this group of men and women who were the last of their kind. I felt an obligation to get this story perfect.
I spent a decade reviewing my journals and re-living the mental images I captured during my imprisonment. I searched for meaning in every scene and event. I tried to identify why Ella and Harry and Doc and Link meant so much to me. And I spent twelve years with top creative writers to hone my writing skills and this story. (Neil White 2009)
In The Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White
Hardcover 2009 313 pp.
ISBN # 978-0-06-135160-0


Vicki Lane said...

What an interesting story!

Carolyn said...

Wow that sounds like a great read.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Vicki... this is one of those reads that stays with you! Its awesome!

Carolyn...IT IS !! 5 STARS !!!!!

lakeviewer said...

I shall pick up a copy. As you know, I teach a Memoir Class every winter at the local college. Love to know good memoirists out there.

Pat in east TN said...

I'm off to Amazon right now!

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

WOW....sounds like a book that I'm going to need to read. I have to go look it up on Amazon right now. Thanks for the review, Carol.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Rosaria...that's wonderful!Its one of a kind!

Pat...LOL! You won't be sorry!!'s a spiritually moving read!

Marguerite said...

What a fascinating story! I am going to put this book on my wish list! Thanks so much Carol and Neil!

crochet lady said...

I've seen that one in BookPage. It is nice to get the inside story. Thanks for sharing this book. I'll defiantly put this one on my list.

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

Thank you Marguerite and Jen.....
I hope you both will read this book! :)

Patti Lacy said...

Wow, As a former Monrovian who wrote about my time there in my second novel, this one hit close to home!

Thanks for featuring it!


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Carol

Just found you new blog! I love th read so I'll try to drop by as often as I can to see your recommendations. This book sounds very interesting!

jeannette stgermain said...

Wow, this must have been a sobering and life altering experience -I've heard it more that it changes a person's life when they meet people who have leprosy. Thanks for bringing this book to our attention.
Happy New Year to you, Carol!

the wild raspberry said...

I'm here to copy down your recommended reads....I just finished was great!