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Fire Shut Up in My Bones

By: Charles M. Blow
Narrated by: Charles M. Blow
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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.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Dan
  • Dan
  • 04-10-14

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.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Mollie
  • 01-08-16

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Happy
  • 29-07-15

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Joanne Cooper Layne
  • Joanne Cooper Layne
  • 11-10-14

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 people found this helpful

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  • Jeanne C.
  • 07-10-14

Don't like the book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

More class

Has Fire Shut Up in My Bones turned you off from other books in this genre?

No

Any additional comments?

Just a personal preference - don't like the tone and vulgarity of this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • The Goose
  • 01-10-21

Wow!!!... revelatory and inspiring

Charles Blow reveals himself for all to hear and understand. Well written and inspiring. A cudo to the reader who gave an insightful and entertaining rendering.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss Bianca
  • 28-06-21

Amazing Story!

All I can say is that you will devour this story. Mr. Blow's voice is seduced with emotion as he presents this amazing story!

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. K. Brooks
  • 19-01-23

Moving

I have admired Charles Blow the last few years as I have read him in The New York Times. This story of his life has only made me respect him more. It’s a moving account of his life that I have enjoyed immensely.

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  • Susan G.
  • 14-01-23

Story better than terrible performance

Terrible monotone performance. Although I was interested in his life and struggles. Great portrayal of a young person’s mind and feelings.

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Profile Image for Kemo
  • Kemo
  • 13-11-22

A brilliantly written coming of age memoir!

I could not put this book down. His stories took me through the entire range of emotions, from laughter to outrage. It is my hope that he one day "throw" his hat into the political arena and makes good on his original dream.