Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fire Shut Up in My Bones

by Charles Blow

Available 09/23/2014


A  gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America's most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past

Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544228047
ISBN-10: 0544228049
Pages: 240
Publication Date: 09/23/2014
Carton Quantity: 12

$21.60

$27.00

Trade 20% discount
-
+

A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America's most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time African-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 African-American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant.

Charles Blow

Charles M. Blow has been columnist at the New York Times since 2008, and he appears regularly on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and HBO. Blow lives in Brooklyn with his three children and was recently named 11th most influential African American in the world by The Root magazine. Read More


Other Books By The Author



"Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a luminous memoir that digs deep into territory I've longed to read about in black men's writing: into the horror of being submerged in a vast drowning swirl of racial, spiritual, and sexual complexity, only to somehow find one's self afloat, though gasping for breath, and then, at long last and at great cost, swimming. I believe both Ancestors and Descendants will cheer."
ALICE WALKER

"Some truths cannot be taught, only learned through stories - profoundly personal and startlingly honest accounts that open not only our eyes but also our hearts to painful and complicated social realities. Charles Blow's memoir tells these kinds of truths. No one who reads this book will be able to forget it. It lays bare in so many ways what is beautiful, cruel, hopeful and despairing about race, gender, class and sexuality in the American South and our nation as a whole. This book is more than a personal triumph; it is a true gift to us all."
MICHELLE ALEXANDER, author of The New Jim Crow

"Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a profoundly moving memoir of Charles Blow's coming of age as a black boy in the Deep South; of the way his sensitive and gifted intelligence slowly begins to kindle, becoming ablaze with wonder at the world and his place in it. Above all, this is the story of a courageously honest man arriving at his decision to 'stop running like the river . . . and just be the ocean, vast, deep, and exactly where it was always meant to be.' Blow has written a classic memoir of a truly American childhood."
HENRY LOUIS GATES

Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a heart-stopping memoir: a portrait of the artist—the exceptionally talented columnist Charles Blow—that also puts a searing face on all sorts of abstractions, like poverty, race, sexuality, and a human persistence sometimes known as courage. So particular yet gracefully timeless is this evocation of childhood that I sometimes felt as if I were reading an update of To Kill a Mockingbird, in which the poor, black protagonist’s moral education destines him to endure, and prevail.”
DIANE McWHORTER, author of  Carry Me Home

"Page by elegant page, Charles Blow has constructed an eloquent and courageous memoir that explains why black and white is never just that—whether it comes to race or the rich, conflicted stew of childhood memory."
GWEN IFILL, moderator, Washington Week, and co-anchor, PBS NewsHour

"Brave and powerful . . . a singular look at a neglected America."
Publishers Weekly