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Excerpt from Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Back to Blood

by Tom Wolfe

Back to Blood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 608 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 736 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Print Excerpt


Once the Sergeant and his dog boarded the schooner and were up on the deck—a regular rubber room, this deck was! Passengers, if that was what they were, were hanging over the railing and gesturing and jabbering at Nestor and the Sergeant… americanos, the whole bunch… light-brown and blondish hair… half of them, girls—all but stark naked! Wild blond hair! Wisps of thong bikini bottoms that didn't even cover the mons pubis!… Tops consisting of two triangles of cloth that hid the nipples but left the rest of the breasts bulging on either side and beckoning, Want more? Nestor didn't. At this moment nothing could have interested him less than making moves on lubricas americanas. They disintegrated in his prayers, which boiled down to Please, Almighty God, I beseech thee, don't let me… fuck up!

The Sergeant walked straight to the forward mast. Nestor walked straight to the forward mast. The Sergeant looked up. Nestor looked up. The Sergeant saw the roost of the mysterious man atop the mast. Nestor saw the roost of the mysterious man—a silhouette against a killer heat lamp dome, a black lump the equivalent of seven or eight stories above the deck. A regular storm of raw-throated voices was caterwauling down from above amid a cacophony of outraged vehicle horns. The Sergeant looked up again. Nestor looked up again. The two policemen had to cock their necks all the way back to see where the commotion was coming from. Sheer murder, looking up like this to the topmost arch of the bridge… An angry crowd was leaning over the railing, two deep, three deep, God knows how many deep. They were so far up, their heads looked the size of eggs. Even Nestor behind his darkest supremos couldn't stare at them for more than a moment. It was like being in the street at the foot of an eight- or nine-story building with a mob unaccountably yelling at you from a roof set afire by the sun. And up there!—practically eye level with the mob, at practically the same height above the deck, was the man. The Sergeant was looking at him from directly below. Nestor was looking at him from directly below. By shielding their eyes with their hands they could see he did look like a clump of dirty laundry, just as Lonnie Kite had put it… no, he looked worse than that… he looked like a clump of filthy, sodden laundry. He was soaking wet. His clothes, his skin, even his black hair—what they could see of it—everything about him was now the same sopping slurry gray-brown color, as if he had just crawled out of an unpumped sump. It didn't help that he jerked his head about spastically as he shouted to the crowd on the bridge and appealed to them by reaching out with his hands contorted, palms up, into the shape of a pair of cups. But how could he stay up there without holding on to the mast? Ahhhhh… he had found a little bucket seat—but how did he get up there in the first place?

"Officer! Officer!"

A great lubberly lulu, no more than thirty years old, had planted himself in front of Sergeant McCorkle. He kept jabbing his forefinger up at the man on the mast. There was fear on his face, and he was talking so fast, his words seemed to be leap-frogging one another, falling over one another, tumbling, stumbling, ricocheting, scattering hopelessly: "Gotta get no business here him like down from there, Officer, I never don't know him like saw him before that you know mob up what do they he's so angry there want who'll him attack my boat like that mast alone destroy it cost a fortune you know that's all I need—"

The guy was soft—look at him!—but in such a luxurious way, was Nestor's immediate verdict. He had full jowls but jowls so smooth and buttery they had reached the level of a perfect flan custard. He had a paunch but a paunch that created a perfect parabola from his sternum to his underbelly, the paunch nonpareil of Idle Youth, created, no doubt, by the dearest, tenderest, tastiest chefs in the world. Over the perfect parabolic arch of a gut was stretched an apple-green shirt, of cotton, yes, but a cotton so fine and so right-out-of-the-box, it had a perfect apple-green sheen—in short, a real pussy, this guy was, a pussy whose words kept coming out of his mouth in a tangle of pussy attitude shot through with fear.

Excerpted from Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe. Copyright © 2012 by Tom Wolfe. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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