Fire Shut Up in My Bones opens with the author driving down the highway, crying, screaming, with a gun on the car seat beside him, headed toward revenge. Then we’re pulled back into the childhood of that wounded man, a story told so well that by the time we come to that scene’s resolution, we’ve almost forgotten it.
Christopher Warren is an Associate Professor of English, co-Director of the English Department’s minor in Humanities Analytics (HumAn), and Director of the Bachelor of Arts in English Program. A member of the Dietrich faculty since 2010, he recently wrapped up the digital humanities project, “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon,” which re-creates the British early modern social network to trace the personal relationships among figures like Bacon, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and many others.
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff is an exhaustive (and at times, exhausting) account of the accusations, imprisonment, trials and executions of fourteen women and five men. It’s a story we all think we know, but Schiff places us in this world so completely, we can feel the chilly air and hear the howling of dogs at night.
For many folks, the word “library” conjures up a quiet building full of books and periodicals, perhaps offering a place for community activities, and branching out into digital media in recent years. This image of libraries as conservative organizations, slow to respond to changes, slow to offer new services, is very well-established. And entirely wrong.
Sometimes a new bestseller leads to older books. Reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop led me to browse for his recommended reading, which led me to Douglas A. Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. The book won a Pulitzer in 2009, and PBS made a documentary in 2012.