The Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series will feature Charles M. Blow, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, discussing his latest novel “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
About Fire Shut Up in My Bones:
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.
About the Author:
Charles M. Blow is visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times. His column appears on Monday and Thursday. Blow joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years. In that role, he led The New York Times to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for information graphics coverage of 9/11. He also led the paper to its first two best in show awards from the Malofiej International Infographics Summit for work that included coverage of the Iraq war. Blow went on to become the paper’s Design Director for News before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director of National Geographic Magazine. Before coming to The New York Times, Blow had been a graphic artist at The Detroit News. Blow graduated magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he received a B.A. in mass communications. He lives in Brooklyn with his three children.