Neil White documents his meteoric rise and fall in the Gulf Coast publishing world, culminating with the missteps that send him to federal prison for bank fraud. His is no ordinary prison, however--it also housed the last remaining leprosarium in the United States. Amidst the hardened criminals, White encounters grace-filled souls like 80-year-old Ella, confined for the past fifty years to a decrepit wheelchair since losing her legs to the disease, and his rebirth begins: 'I watched...Ella crank her wheelchair toward the patient side. Even after fifty years, she had not perfected a synchronized crank...She would veer off a bit to the right and then adjust with a longer crank to the left. She constantly adjusted her course...veered and corrected, veered and corrected, a thousand times a day.' While a few of the inmates' offensive language may repel some readers--White's characterizations are graphically honest--this story at its heart concerns redemption: the healing of one man's soul through his contact with people of God, hidden among the disfigured and the forgotten.
An Eighth Day View:
Daddy is going to camp. That's what I told my children. But it wasn't camp. . . .
Neil White wanted only the best for those he loved and was willing to go to any lengths to provide it--which is how he ended up in a federal prison in rural Louisiana, serving eighteen months for bank fraud. But it was no ordinary prison. The beautiful, isolated colony in Carville, Louisiana, was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy--a small circle of outcasts who had forged a tenacious, clandestine community, a fortress to repel the cruelty of the outside world. In this place rich with history, amid an unlikely mix of leprosy patients, nuns, and criminals, White's strange and compelling new life journey began.
An extraordinary memoir at once funny, poignant, and uplifting, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts reminds us all what matters most.