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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.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Dan on 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.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Happy on 07-29-15


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.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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