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Publisher's Summary

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 was felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders' stories and in the near-constant wash of violence.

Charles's attachment to his mother - a fiercely driven women 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, Charles 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.

©2014 Charles M. Blow (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 10-04-14

Authors should NOT read their books.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No, it might have been had a professional read the book. It's a rare talent and generally authors don't have it. This is an example. It sounded like "pressured speech". Barbara Kingsolver, Simon Winchester, Alexander McCall-Smith and John Le Carre' can do it, but most authors should leave it to the professionals

Would you be willing to try another book from Charles M. Blow? Why or why not?

Definitely YES, if he did not read it.

What didn’t you like about Charles M. Blow’s performance?

The pace/cadence. Again, it seemed like "pressured speech. Way too slow and the sentences did not flow appropriately.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I don't think so. It might depend on the cast.

Any additional comments?

I've listened to over 900 books in the past several years and I've come to appreciate what a talent "performing" a book is.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Courageous

I am a fan of Charles Blow and rate him among my top three columnists. His memoir was moving, revelatory and told with great candor. And while I was very drawn to his story, I agree with the other reviewers who found his personal narration detracted from, rather than enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The exception was when he assumed the voice of another person. Quality narration of audiobooks is a special talent. That is one area of control that most writers should be persuaded to relinquish. That was certainly the case here. However, the memoir is great. I would recommend it to friends, with the caveat that they read, rather than listen to it. Well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best books of 2014 -this is on the short list

Would you listen to Fire Shut Up in My Bones again? Why?

Yes, reads like a good nivel, keen isights beautiful wring , funny and prodound

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fire Shut Up in My Bones?

The portrayal of Charles Blows community growing up where everyone called him Charl s baby and then moving to a new neighborhood where he not only was no ones baby but not even noticed

Which scene was your favorite?

Pistol packing women of his youth , the job fair ith the New york times

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Hilarious at times stunning in its ability to make you think about big life issues

Any additional comments?

This hould bevome one of those books that everyone should read in high school. Like rubyfruit Jungle it tells awarm story of sexual identity Wakening

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An incredible memoir. definitely a must read!

I don't even know where to begin. Charles has always been my favorite op-ed columnist at the times since he started writing there. His story is incredibly moving on so many different levels. I'm at a loss for words at the moment. Other than to say read it read it read it!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a fellow Survivor

I thoroughly enjoyed this book its author is true and honest characters becoming friends to you, yet you can still see their flaws.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Charles Blow Revealed!!!!!!

I loved the whole audio presentation! I attended Grambling State University as well. I was an acquaintance of his. I felt as if we were sitting in front of the library and he decided to share his life with me. All I have to say is BRAVO!!! I have already recommended his book to a few of my friends. It was raw and revealing. A true act of bravery and self awareness of who he was and who he is today.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating and worth the read!!!

Excellent! Mr. Blow gives a thought provoking look into the human struggle~the grey area called bisexuality.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A very good book marred by monotone narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

With caveats regarding the narration. The story is one of growing up in the Deep South poor and black. It resonated with me -- I spent half my childhood in the South, middle class and white. I remember too well the apartheid of that time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is Mr Blow's memoir of growing up in the Deep South. He is my favorite character.

How could the performance have been better?

Have a trained actor read the book or have Mr Blow take voice training.

What else would you have wanted to know about Charles M. Blow’s life?

Mr Blow is one of my favorite NYT columnists. I also listen to his audio reports on FaceBook, which are spontaneous, witty, tongue in cheek rants -- I love them.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

kay

this book shows how a child can wrestle with many things in his life and still come out on top and be successful.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • kim
  • brookline, MA, United States
  • 10-30-14

Well written and engaging… audio could be better

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fire Shut Up in My Bones?

I thought this book was very well written. I nice use of descriptive words without being too wordsmith intensive.

How could the performance have been better?

Charles who is the writer and narrator has a really nice deep voice but he was unemotional and drone like in his reading. There were some parts however which were very well done and these happened to be when he was voicing someone other than narration. I can see the narrator had real potential that sadly wasn't realized.

I have said this over and over here…the narration makes or breaks the audiobook. This one needed better direction maybe.