Summary and book reviews of Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

Back to Blood

By Tom Wolfe

Back to Blood
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2012,
    608 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2013,
    736 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Book Summary

As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay - with officer Nestor Camacho on board - Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor, the black police chief, a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night - until lately, the love of Nestor's life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin' little brother; a billionaire porn addict, crack dealers in the 'hoods, "de-skilled" conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair, "spectators" at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night's orgy, yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an "Active Adult" condo, and a nest of shady Russians.

Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe's previous bestselling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.

Excerpt
Back to Blood

The Sergeant was easing back on the throttle. The SMACKs became less violent and less frequent as they closed in on the huge white sailboat. They were approaching it from the rear.

Officer Lonnie Kite leaned down over the instrument panel and began looking upward. "Jesus Christ, Sarge, those masts—I never saw masts that high in my life. They're tall as the fucking bridge, and the fucking bridge has a mean water level clearance of eighty-fucking-two feet!"

Busy easing the Safe Boat in alongside the sailboat, the Sergeant didn't so much as glance up. "That's a schooner, Lonnie. You heard a the 'tall ships'?"

"Yeah… I think so, Sarge. I guess so."

"They built 'em for speed, back in the nineteenth century. That's why they got masts that tall. That way you get more sail area. Back in the day they used to race out to shipwrecks or incoming cargo ships or whatever to get to the booty sooner. I bet those masts are ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The title of Back to Blood's prologue, "We een MeeAH mee Now" is a Latina character's retort to a "gringa's" request that she speak English, because "YOU'RE IN AMERICA NOW!" How has your town or city changed due to its immigrant population? To what extent have the elements in its melting pot melted?
  2. Tom Wolfe made a dozen extended trips to Miami over two years while researching Back to Blood. He has said that writers should "leave the desk" in order to gather material for their books, and he admires nineteenth century naturalistic novelists like Balzac and Zola for having done so. What are some of this novel's memorable details that could have been learned and conveyed only by Wolfe's direct observation? ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

I have been reading Tom Wolfe for decades ... 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. I was weary of the same old stuff and wondered if Wolfe hadn’t passed his prime. I worried that his use of sexual language went outside the realm of what BookBrowse could recommend to its readers.

And yet – I picked the book back up each time I thought I was done with it. Why?   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

Full Review Members Only (1254 words).

Media Reviews
Library Journal

About every eight to ten years since the 1987 publication of Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe writes a novel summing up America's zeitgeist. This wide-lens view of Miami's Biscayne Bay sounds no different.

Publishers Weekly

Filling his prose with sound effects, foreign phrases, accented English, and slang, Wolfe creates his own Miami sound machine—noisy, chaotic, infused with tropical rhythms, and fueled by the American dream. The result is a book louder than it is deep; more sensational than it is thought provoking; less like Wolfe at his best, more like tabloid headlines recast as fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. As if the 45 years from Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to here hadn't passed, Wolfe is back to some old tricks, including an ever-shifting, sometimes untrustworthy point of view, dizzying pans from one actor to another and rat-a-tat prose...A welcome pleasure from an old master.

Booklist

Starred Review. Within a masterfully strategized plot, Wolfe works his sardonic mojo to mock both prejudice and decadence and demolish the art world, reality TV, tawdry fame, and journalism in the digital age...This is a shrewd, riling, and exciting tale of a volatile, diverse, sun-seared city where 'everybody hates everybody.'

Reader Reviews
BinkWms

Read it.
So: Irritating at times, but I have read all of his novels and have always found them well worth the trouble. Definitely a lot of bang for your buck. Being from Florida, found it mostly believable. I pre-ordered this book and read it non-stop. If...   Read More

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Tom Wolfe

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.

Tom WolfeAfter 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 culture of southern California, it was included in and became the title of his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Its ...

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