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Past into Present

posted by: October 29, 2014 - 7:00am

Book cover of Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. BlowBook cover of the Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs.Two little boys growing up in America; one an urban Jersey boy, the other raised in the small towns of the deep South. Both are African-American, poor, with strong, determined mothers and absentee fathers, each a young witness to violence. Both are identified as highly intelligent and both went to college and graduated. One became a reporter and appears on network television news shows; the other is dead, murdered. Journalist Charles Blow tells his own story in Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir while Jeff Hobbs memorializes the life of his Yale roommate in the bestselling The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League.

 

Charles Blow looks to be sitting in the catbird seat. Op-ed columnist for The New York Times and a commentator on CNN, he is a man who projects confidence and success. His memoir, however, reveals a rural Louisiana childhood of poverty where he saw conflict settled with weapons and one of the greatest insults a boy could endure was to be a called a “punk,” meaning homosexual. Blow was twice the victim of sexual abuse by older male relatives, leaving him wondering what it was about himself that attracted predators. Fire Shut Up In My Bones is Blow’s sensitive and introspective reflection on how his past created his present.

 

Young Robert Peace idolized his father, a man who seemed to know everyone in Newark’s rough suburbs. Convicted of killing two women, Peace’s father was incarcerated when Peace was in first grade. Rob’s mother Jackie worked in institutional kitchens to afford a private education for her son, determined that Rob would escape the ghetto. Indeed he did, landing a fully funded spot at Yale thanks to his prodigious intellect, focused hard work and leadership qualities. The quick and sad version of Peace’s story is after college, he gradually drifted back to his old neighborhood and slid into the criminal activity leading to his murder. Hobbs chooses to honor his friend fairly by writing The Short and Tragic Life which presents Peace as a complex man who struggled under the weight of opposing expectations and experiences.


 
 

In my opinion, based on extreme due diligence of reading, watching, and listening to interviews by Blow, it's very incorrect to say above that Blow was "twice the victim of sexual abuse by older male relatives." This is egregiously factually wrong, and in my opinion I show this in my one star review on Amazon. Blow's two, and ONLY TWO, supposed "incidents" of "sexual abuse" are ludicrous and not only in my opinion NOT sexual abuse but not even abuse. I think Blow meant and intended that his two "incidents" be taken as egregious and physical and violent sexual abuse. In his interviews, though, you can hear him backpedaling and qualifying his absurd allegations against his cousin and uncle. Pitiful and shameful in my opinion, capitalizing on the true abuse suffered by children. Again, read my one star review on Amazon.



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Revised: February 1, 2017