Fire Shut up in My Bones

Fire Shut up in My Bones

A Memoir

Book - 2014
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New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time Black American Louisiana town where he grew up -- a place where slavery's legacy felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders' stories and in the near-constant wash of violence. Blow's attachment to his mother -- a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry at a nearby factory, a soon-to-be-ex husband, and a love of newspapers and learning -- cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It's damage that triggers years of anger and searing self-questioning. Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he's ever needed and wanted, until he's called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse. A powerfully redemptive memoir that both fits the tradition of Black American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant. Charles M. Blow is a New York Times columnist and CNN commentator. He lives in Brooklyn.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Branch Call Number: 070.92 B657f
Characteristics: 228 p. ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Jun 06, 2019

Beautifully written, almost like poetry, even when he’s writing about painful experiences! Well worth the time to read!

May 23, 2018

Avail at NKC

Oct 29, 2015

Blow is somewhat over fond of adjectives and description, and prone to using unusual descriptors and then repeating them almost immediately, perhaps for emphasis. Often, these detailed descriptions are bestowed upon insignificant figures who factor little in his story. But this minor quirk aside, Blow has a striking way with words.

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Sep 13, 2015

I really enjoy Charles Blow's columns in the New York Times and found his memoir very difficult to put down. It is a fascinating journey of self-discovery for a young man who lived through some harrowing experiences while growing up in the Deep South .

nettietheyeti Mar 28, 2015

Gracefully written, insightful autobiography. His struggle over accepting his bisexuality in the aftermath of being sexually abused as a child was particularly moving.

tinker6e11 Feb 17, 2015

I love this book.
It is an amazing depiction of growing up in the south. A viewpoint from someone with so many different angles on life. And his power with words is phenomenal. I hope he writes more!

Dec 08, 2014

Mr. Blow's writing is outstanding. He knows how to craft words.

Nov 20, 2014

Charles Blow, one of my favorite African-American journalists, tells the tale of his first 20 years, most of them in a small, poor, rural town, Gibsland, Louisiana. Now, in his 40’s (?), he reveals that he has been secretly shamed to tell anyone that he was the victim of child abuse once or twice, by male elders. Perhaps, one of the reasons for the book, was to help get past his shame and embarrassment. Overall, this is just a tale of growing up of somebody that really finally has triumphed over feelings of mediocrity. I’ve seen him many times on TV, explaining the African-American side of controversial racial issues.


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Oct 29, 2015

Violence: Guns Hazing Murder

Oct 29, 2015

Sexual Content: Sexual abuse

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Apr 22, 2015

jayjl thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Oct 29, 2015

“I had to resort to the most useful and dangerous lesson a damaged child ever learns—how to lie to himself. I had to make up a reason, an excuse, because there is nowhere to hide in a small house. I had to make room within the rooms, a safe place midway in the mind, behind seeing and before knowing. There I could resurrect memories and bury secrets.”


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