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

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Back to Blood

by Tom Wolfe

Back to Blood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"—killer nutball I'm fucked sue me! The liable sucker who gets sued's me! Raving maniac never saw before picks me!—"

The Sergeant brought both hands up to his chest, palms up and out in the Whoa, back off mode. "Slow down! This is your boat?"

"Yes! And I'm the one—"

"Just hold it. What's your name?"

"Jonathan. The thing is, like, soon as I—"

"You got a, like, last name?"

The great lubberly pussy looked at the Sergeant as if he, the Sergeant, had lost his mind. Then he said, "Krin?" It sounded like half a question. "K, R, I, N?" Being a member of the first generation that used no last names, he found the notion archaic.

"Okay, Jonathan, whyn't you"—the Sergeant gave his palms three little pumps down toward the deck, as if to say, Calmly, without getting all excited—"tell me how he got there."

It seemed that this portly, but perfectly portly, young man had invited his mates to come along for a cruise up Biscayne Bay to the house and marina of a friend on a celebrity-heavy waterfront enclave aptly known as Star Island. He saw no reason why he couldn't ease the schooner's seventy-five-foot mainmast underneath the eighty-two-feet-high bridge on the causeway… until they got close to it and it began to look maybe dangerous, what with the wind and the choppy water and swells that were causing the schooner to pitch a bit. So they dropped anchor sixty feet from the bridge, and all eight of them went to the bow to study the situation.

One of them happened to turn around, and he said, "Hey, Jonathan, there's some guy back there on the deck! He just came up the ladder!" Sure enough, there was this thin, stringy, soaking-wet, sodden mess of a little man, breathing heavily… homeless, everybody thought. He had somehow come up the ladder on the stern used for slipping into and out of the water. He now stood still, dripping, on the aft deck, staring at them. He started toward them slowly, warily, gulping for air, until Jonathan, in his capacity as owner and captain, yelled at him, "Hey, hold on, whattaya think you're doing?" The guy stopped, began gesturing with both hands, palms up, and jabbering, between gulps of air, in what they took to be Spanish. Jonathan kept yelling, "Get offa here! Go! Fuck off!" and other unfriendly commands. With that, the bum, as they all took him to be, started running jacklegged, stumbling, careening, not away from them but straight at them. The girls began screaming. The bum looked like a wet rat. Half his hair seemed to be plastered across his face. His eyes were bugged wide open. His mouth was wide open, maybe just because he couldn't get his breath, but you could see his teeth. He looked psychotic. The guys started yelling at him and waving their arms in the sort of crisscross pattern football referees use to indicate that a field goal kick is no good. The bum keeps coming and is only a few yards from them, and the girls are screaming, making a hell of a racket, and the guys are screaming—by now their yells have turned into half-a-screams—and flailing their arms over their heads, and the bum wheels about and dashes to the forward mast and goes up it, to the top.

"Wait a minute," says Sergeant McCorkle. "Back up a second. Okay, so he's on the deck back there, and then he comes all the way from there to up here. Did you try to stop him? Did anybody try to stop him?"

Jonathan averted his eyes and took a deep breath and said, "Well, the thing is… he looked like a psycho. You know? And maybe he had like a weapon—you know?—a revolver, a knife. You couldn't tell."

"I see," said the Sergeant. "He looked like a psycho, and maybe he had a weapon, you couldn't tell, and you didn't try to stop him; nobody tried to stop him." He said it not as a question but as a recitation… in a form of deadpan mockery cops like.

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Tom Wolfe

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.