Fire Shut up in My Bones

Fire Shut up in My Bones

A Memoir

eBook - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 Notable Book | Lambda Literary Award Winner | Long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award

“Charles Blow is the James Baldwin of our age.” — Washington Blade

“[An] exquisite memoir . . . Delicately wrought and arresting.” — New York Times

Universally praised on its publication, Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a pioneering journalist’s indelible coming-of-age tale. 

Charles M. Blow’s mother was a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, and a job plucking poultry at a factory near their segregated Louisiana town, where slavery's legacy felt close. When her philandering husband finally pushed her over the edge, she fired a pistol at his fleeing back, missing every shot, thanks to “love that blurred her vision and bent the barrel.” Charles was the baby of the family, fiercely attached to his “do-right” mother. Until one day that divided his life into Before and After—the day an older cousin took advantage of the young boy. The story of how Charles escaped that world to become one of America’s most innovative and respected public figures is a stirring, redemptive journey that works its way into the deepest chambers of the heart.

“Stunning . . . Blow’s words grab hold of you . . . [and] lead you to a place of healing.” — Essence

“The memoir of the year.” — A. V. Club

Baker & Taylor
A respected journalist describes the abuse he suffered at the hands of a close family relative, the effect this had on his formative years and how he overcame the anger and self-doubt it left behind.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
ISBN: 9780544302587
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Read my full review here:

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.


Add Notices
Oct 29, 2015

Violence: Guns Hazing Murder

Oct 29, 2015

Sexual Content: Sexual abuse


Add Age Suitability
Apr 22, 2015

jayjl thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Quote
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.”


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IndyPL

To Top