The visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 2008, Charles M. Blow first made his name using charts as a form of opinion journalism. Since 2014 he has published more conventional-looking, if no less distinctive, columns. Now this astute commentator on public events tells his own story with Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27). This wrenching yet ultimately luminous memoir takes its title from a Bible verse, which continues ...and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it; accordingly, this coming-of-age narrative, set in 1970s Gibsland, Louisiana, a small, segregated community, unfolds with a powerful urgency. Although reviews, as well as interviews with the author, have often focused on the sexual abuse Blow suffered as a young boy, and on the sometimes violent episodes of fraternity hazing he was subject to in college, the memoir is multi-textured, featuring vivid characters and lyrical small-town settings. The story of Blow’s mother’s reinvention and of his own remarkable career path are among the many reasons to read this inspiring book.
An unnamed narrator spends a summer in a small town on the rocky coast of Maine. The narrator is a writer who explores the natural landscape as well as the local inhabitants. While the plot, like the writer, meanders and The Country of Pointed Firs is full of moving writing and enduring New England characters.
From founding editor of domino magazine (and now editor of the New York Times Style Magazine), this indispensable book is the design equivalent of comfort food. The watercolor drawings of shabby chic furniture are a confection unto themselves, and Needleman’s elegant but simple style, and her permission to break all the rules, will help any house evolve into a home.