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

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Print Excerpt

¡Caliente! Caliente baby
Got plenty fuego in yo caja china,
Means you needs a length a Hose put in it,
Ain' no maybe—

It's his iPhone ringing in his pocket! ::::::What a fool! I'm one slip from death, holding a man up with my legs and hauling him down a hundred-foot cable by hand—there's nothing I can turn the goddamn thing off with! A goddamn song by Bulldog—not even the real thing, Pitbull!—and I still can't keep the words from penetrating my head—::::::

—'bout it.
Hose knows you burnin' up wit'out it.
Don'tcha try deny it,
'Cause Hose knows you dyin' a try it—

—when he needs every neuron, every dendrite, every synapse, every gemmule in his mind to concentrate on the horrible fix he's gotten himself into. If he falls seventy feet onto a boat deck because his iPhone is singing

Hose knows all!
Knows you out tryin' a buy it,
But Hose only gives it free

—then he damn well better die!… He damn well better not wake up gorked out in an electric-motor-powered hospital bed in some morose intensive-care unit listed as "critical but stable"… the mortifying ignominy of it! But—no choice! He's got to do it! Both hands still grip the cable, his legs grip what?—maybe 120 pounds?—of panicked-out little homunculus, and here goes! He releases one hand—and that's it—no turning back! The downswing—the centrifugal force—::::::I'm done for!:::::: One hand! Unbearable, the centrifugal force ::::::pulling my rotator cuff apart, pulling my arm out of the socket!—my wrist away from the arm! my hand away from my wrist! nothing left but—

To his fav'rite charity,
Hose' favorite cha-ree-tee, see?
Hose' fav'rite cha-ree-tee,
An' 'at's me.

—one hand clutching a cable! I'll crash on the deck from seven stories up, me and the gnome:::::: but a miracle! He grabs the cable with his other hand on the upswing—yes, a miracle!—it redistributes the weight! Both shoulders, both wrists, both hands are whole again!—kept intact only by the slimmest steely cord of unbearable agony!—only that cord to save him and the slurry-brown elfin man from falling seven stories and winding up as two shapeless bags of ecchymotic-purple integument full of broken bones! Below, down in the Halusian Gulp, the deck is covered with turned-up faces the size of marbles. From above rain the insults, boos, and disgusting yaaaggggghs of the animals on the bridge—but now he knows! has the power to persevere in a state of morbidly horrifying pain!—already into another swing—and he makes it—fury from

'At's me, see?
An' 'at's me.

above—gawking by the spectators below—but he thinks of only one soul, the minority Sergeant McCorkle, a mindless Americano but a sergeant all the same—another swing—and he makes it—the damned phone is still ringing. ::::::Idiots! Don't you know

An' 'at's me, see?
An' 'at's me.>br> Yo yo!

you are pumping toxins and messing up my mind? Oh, the hell with it!:::::: Another swing—he makes it. ::::::Dios mío querido, together we look into the web of blood in their eyes, and into the affectless red eyes of the television cameras!:::::: Another swing—he

"—Yo yo!

Mismo! Mismo!"

makes it… another… another… another… ¡Dios mío!—no more than ten feet above the deck—that sea of eyeballs and open mouths—what the!!?? The slurry little ecchymotic sack of panic has come to life—he's bucking like a fish in the vise grip of Nestor's legs—a regular forest of hands

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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