I have been reading Tom Wolfe for decades, from non-fiction work such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
to his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities
, through A Man in Full
to this, his latest, Back to Blood
. The manic rhythms and hip verbosity of his writing are instantly recognizable even to the point of repeating various tropes. His propensity for naming and counting the musculature of male characters as well as the delights of female bodies shows up in every book. This book was no different. Though I have acquired a taste for his methods, many were the times I threw down Back to Blood
and vowed not to pick it up again. For instance, he inserts a cartoon-like soundtrack into his prose:
"SMACK the Safe Boat bounces airborne comes down again SMACK on another swell in the bay bounces up again comes down SMACK on another...
Beyond the Book
Tom Wolfe was born on March 2, 1931 in Richmond, VA. He was editor of his high school newspaper and sports editor of his college newspaper. His college professor of American Studies, Marshall Fishwick, stressed looking at the entirety of a culture including its profane aspects. Wolfe's books show how much he took this to heart.
After taking a doctorate in American Studies at Yale, he began his working life as a reporter, working for both The Washington Post
and the New York Herald Tribune
. One of his first feature articles appeared in Esquire
magazine. Covering the hot rod and custom car...