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Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
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Back to Blood (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Tom Wolfe, Lou Diamond Phillips (Reader)

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379None28,388 (3.49)17
Member:SigmundFraud
Title:Back to Blood
Authors:Tom Wolfe
Other authors:Lou Diamond Phillips (Reader)
Info:Little, Brown & Company (2012), Edition: Abridged, Audio CD
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:fiction american

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Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe (2012)

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Over recent years I have found myself wondering why John Cleese and Steve Martin seemed to stop being funny, or at what point did Paul McCartney's talent dry up. Alongside these perplexing questions I would like to know what happened to Tom Wolfe, who seems to offer an immense literary enigma.

How can one person write a novel as marvellous, engrossing and iconic as [The Bonfire of the Vanities] and follow it up, at a space of several years each time, with works as lamentable as [A Man in Full], [I Am Charlotte Simmons] and, now, [Back to Blood]. [The Bonfire of the Vanities] caught the dynamic of the late 1980s with searing accuracy, hurling would-be Master of the Universe Sherman McCoy down from his Olympian life after literally taking a wrong turning in the Bronx. Like Thackeray's [Vanity Fair], this was a novel without a hero through it abounded with victims, including McCoy who was ground down through the maws of a rotten criminal prosecution system after his car knocks down Henry Lamb, a young man from the Bronx who is left on a life support system. A rich cast of characters all pursue their separate agendas, each of which is handed masterfully by Wolfe, even though this was his first venture into writing fiction.

Twenty-five years and three novels on and Wolfe's grip seems to have loosened. He does, it is true, come up with an intriguing plot hook, with Nestor Camacho, a Cuban American police officer in Miami becoming involved in the arrest of a Cuban refugee desperate to seek asylum in the United States. His dramatic arrest is captured on live television, and Camacho initially basks in the adulation of his fellow officers, only to find himself ostracised within the Miami Cuban American community who consider that he has turned his back on his roots. Tensions mount and Nestor's life lurches from one crisis to the next.

Though he has a potentially very rich seam to mine, Wolfe never manages to secure the reader's empathy. In [The Bonfire of the Vanities] Sherman McCoy inhabits a world utterly removed from that of most of the readers, and he is an arrogant and spoiled character, but Wolfe was able to make the reader feel his frustration and disbelief as the campaign for "justice" take hold and the District Attorney, with a view to impending re-election campaign, allows himself to be carried along with flow. In this novel I found that I really wasn't interested in Nestor's plight. ( )
1 vote Eyejaybee | Feb 11, 2014 |
A curate's egg of a book - in some ways Tom Wolfe doesn't disappoint, I got a clear idea of the demographic tensions within Miami and of the crazy Emperor's New Clothes situation regarding Art Basel Miami. But the book really needed some serious editing and the story-line just fizzled out like a damp squib.
I often think that famous writers are badly edited in their later works - maybe publishers think they don't need editing because they are already well known; or maybe publishers think they can save money by not bothering to use a good editor on their books. Whatever the reason, it does the author no service whatsoever.
Crazy coincidence is that Art Basel Miami has just taken place and celebs attending it - exactly as Wolfe describes - are featured in the UK press. If I hadn't read the book it would have all gone right over my head! ( )
  herschelian | Dec 10, 2013 |
Het nieuwste boek van Tom Wolfe is een Comic in zwart-wit, een tekenstrip in een orkaan van woorden. Uitvergrootte emoties en inktzwart aangezette tegenstellingen leveren een theatraal plot. "Terug naar het bloed" is een "roman noir", een échte rechtschapen held, een beeldschone maar o-zo-verdorven vrouw als verrader en een samenloop van omstandigheden die je zelf nooit zo zou kunnen bedenken.

Het verhaal speelt zich af in Miami, explosief vat vol tegenstellingen. Met volkomen gescheiden bevolkingsgroepen van onder andere Cubanen en Haïtianen en met extreme tegenstellingen tussen puissant rijk en straatarm, een stad "waar iedereen elkaar haat". Het boek staat vol Spaanse en Creoolse begrippen en woorden, exponenten waarmee verschillende generaties zich tegen elkaar afzetten: de oudere provinciale Cubanen die alleen Spaans spreken, de jonge Haïtiaanse gangs die Creool gebruiken als geheimtaal en de schmierende Russen die elkaar bedreigen in het Russisch. Taal is een wapen bij Tom Wolfe.

Spannend en onderhoudend geschreven werpt het boek een genadeloos fel licht op een moderne samenleving waarvan Reality-tv, uitzinnige kunstvormen en porno de hoekstenen zijn. ( )
  JaapNoordzij | Nov 13, 2013 |
While the story was entertaining is a sad sort of pathetic way, there was no point to the story and the ending was flat. I was generally disappointed but was kept somewhat interested hoping that the story was truly going somewhere. ( )
  GlennBell | Oct 10, 2013 |
A major disappointment. The first half of the book works as this astute writer-reporter considers contemporary Miami. One feels blessed to have such a trenchant observer, and his characters and settings are peerless. The second half dies and the last third...What was clear and beautifully etched becomes murky and uninspiring. The misogyny the author directs toward a major character is insulting to women and eventually makes one lose interest in the work. Where at first there was balance between competing life views--including the oligarchic 1% vs. the 99%--eventually the characters become uninteresting, the plot becomes limited rather than open-ended, and ultimately Wolfe loses me as reader before I reach the last page and following multiple skims. ( )
  neddludd | Jul 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316036315, Hardcover)

A writer like Tom Wolfe probably shouldn’t have to stage a comeback, but there will doubtless be reviewers of his new novel, Back to Blood, who describe it that way. In Wolfe's career of great books, his last novel, published in 2004, was considered by many to be a stumble--but Back to Blood is a return to form, a work that solidifies Wolfe’s stature as one of the best. Using his incisive journalistic skills, his flair for the cinematic moment, and his laugh-out-loud sense of humor, Wolfe takes the disparate types in and around Miami to create a tapestry of memorable scenes and characters. The result is entertaining, revealing, and perhaps even bigger than the sum of its parts. This is a book that will do for Miami what Wolfe's mega-hit The Bonfire of the Vanities did for New York. --Chris Schluep

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:18 -0400)

A colorful cast of residents and visitors to Miami go about their daily activities, both legal and illegal.

(summary from another edition)

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