Back to Blood

Back to Blood

3.2 57
by Tom Wolfe, Lou Diamond Phillips
     
 

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A big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now.

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

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Overview

A big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Dirda
Brilliant...I couldn't stop reading it....Tom Wolfe can make words dance and sing and perform circus tricks, he can make the reader sigh with pleasure.
Washington Post
Lev Grossman
I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004):

"Wolfe is one of the greatest literary stylists and social observers of our much observed postmodern era....A rich, wise, absorbing, and irresistible novel.
Time

Lev Grossman - Time Magazine
I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004):

"Wolfe is one of the greatest literary stylists and social observers of our much observed postmodern era....A rich, wise, absorbing, and irresistible novel.

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR TOM WOLFE:

Bonfire of the Vanities (1987):"

A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go."—New York Times Book Review"

A superb human comedy and the first novel ever to get contemporary New York, in all its arrogance and shame and heterogeneity and insularity, exactly right."—Washington Post Book World

A Man in Full (1998):"

The novel contains passages as powerful and as beautiful as anything written—not merely by contemporary American novelists but by any American novelist....The book is as funny as anything Wolfe has ever written; at the same time it is also deeply, strangely affecting."—New York Times Book Review

I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004):"

Wolfe is one of the greatest literary stylists and social observers of our much observed postmodern era....A rich, wise, absorbing, and irresistible novel."—Lev Grossman, Time"

Wolfe's dialogue is some of the finest in literature, not just fast but deep. He hears the cacophony of our modern lives."—Los Angeles Times"

Brilliant...I couldn't stop reading it....Tom Wolfe can make words dance and sing and perform circus tricks, he can make the reader sigh with pleasure."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Tom Wolfe's first novel in eight years focuses on Miami's Biscayne Bay with its swirling stew of race, class, and sex. The author behind The Bonfire of the Vanities and I Am Charlotte Simmons had not lost his gift for panoramic presentation; Back to Blood surges with its large ensemble cast of Floridians and immigrants with mixed histories and conflicting agendas. This sun-bronzed band of sailors, crack dealers, art enthusiasts, porn addicts, insomniacs, and love-struck romantics keep the fiction bristling with meaning even as the action moves forward. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

The New York Times
What holds our attention in Back to Blood…are Mr. Wolfe's two main characters: Nestor Camacho…and his former girlfriend Magdalena…Although Mr. Wolfe can be patronizing toward this pair, mocking them for their ignorance and naïveté, he also portrays them with genuine sympathy, using their earnest idealism as a prism by which to view the pretensions, social climbing and Machiavellian manipulation that burbles all around them. Nestor and Magdalena show that…Mr. Wolfe has been able to build upon the advances he made in creating flesh-and-blood people in A Man in Full (1998)—people who are not defined simply by their clothes, cars and verbal idiosyncrasies, but who actually possess something resembling an inner life.
—Michiko Kakutani
Publishers Weekly
Two hundred pages into Wolfe's frantic potboiler about Miami's melting pot, a description of City Hall reminds readers of the vivid detail that made Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities) a literary icon. Yet despite flashes of "the right stuff", his latest novel comprises not an exposé of popular culture so much as a lurid compendium of clichés. The prologue features a scandal-fearing newspaper editor fretting as his wife tries to park her mini-hybrid at a trendy restaurant, but the action begins with marine patrolman Nestor Camacho speeding across Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, his moment of glory dissolves into humiliation when he is condemned for arresting, after saving, a Cuban refugee. Resolute in pressing on, a bewildered Nestor works with reporter John Smith to unravel fraud at the city's new art museum and uncover the truth behind an incident of school violence. In the process, he meets elegant Haitian beauty Ghislaine, whose professor father desperately hopes she'll "pass" for white. African Americans, Russian émigrés, and Jewish retirees also appear: ethnic groups separated by language, tribe, and class; linked together by sex, money, and real estate. 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. (Oct. 23)
New York Times Book Review
A Man in Full (1998):

"The novel contains passages as powerful and as beautiful as anything written--not merely by contemporary American novelists but by any American novelist....The book is as funny as anything Wolfe has ever written; at the same time it is also deeply, strangely affecting."

Washington Post Book World
"A superb human comedy and the first novel ever to get contemporary New York, in all its arrogance and shame and heterogeneity and insularity, exactly right."
Los Angeles Times
"Wolfe's dialogue is some of the finest in literature, not just fast but deep. He hears the cacophony of our modern lives."
Donna Seaman
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.'
Booklist (Starred Review)
Michael Dirda - Washington Post
"Brilliant...I couldn't stop reading it....Tom Wolfe can make words dance and sing and perform circus tricks, he can make the reader sigh with pleasure."
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
"Gripping....[Wolfe] limns a dog-eat-dog world in which people behave like animals, scratching and clawing their way up the greasy social pole."
Sarah Fenske - LA Weekly
"A breezy, funny read...and an examination of just what it means to be a man."
Kyle Smith - People
"The novel roars and zips along like a cigarette boat, and even at 81 the Man in White proves to be a marvelous reporter. Call this bawdy humdinger the Bonfire of the Miamians."
Adam Langer - San Francisco Chronicle
"Wolfe is writing with as much brio as he brought to his debut novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, 25 years ago. Back to Blood demonstrates the author's persistent vitality."
Ken Armstrong - Seattle Times
"A rollicking good story. Akin to The Bonfire of the Vanities, the book has memorable characters and big themes."
Dale Singer - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A typically overstuffed, overstated, delectably over-the-top portrait of modern Miami."
John Timpane - Philadelphia Enquirer
"With the sweep, particularity, and deliciously flamboyant language that have become Wolfe trademarks, Back to Blood tackles Miami and environs. Wolfeian description is seldom just pretty writing--almost always, the physical environment tells the person, tells the society."
Husna Huq - Christian Science Monitor
"Preposterous, overwrought, contrived, wildly ambitious, and outrageously entertaining. It is, in other words, classic Wolfian fare."
Michael Moynihan - The Daily Beast
"Back to Blood is a bracing vision of America's shifting demography and the immutability of ethnic conflict and class aspirations....Wolfe demonstrates that his skills as a novelist and a chronicler of America's class anxieties are undiminished."
Bob Hoover - Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Another big, sprawling, engrossing, hilarious, character-packed and action-driven novel by the master chronicler of modern America."
Lev Grossman - Time
I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004):

"Wolfe is one of the greatest literary stylists and social observers of our much observed postmodern era....A rich, wise, absorbing, and irresistible novel."

William McKeen - Boston Sunday Globe
"Immensely entertaining and insightful. Nobody does hedonism and excess like Miami, and Wolfe has managed to wrangle all of his observations into an expansive book that despite its huge cast avoids becoming unruly."
James Wolcott - Vanity Fair
"The premier 19th-century novelist of the 21st century, the thin white duke of American neon prose, Tom Wolfe may be the last of the literary showmen in the era of mopers and trauma specialists. Wolfe shows no signs of slackening energy or ambition in his latest novel, Back to Blood."
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald
"The novel's pointed observations are dangerously close to reality: Wolfe, Master of the New Journalism Universe, has done his homework and done it well. There is nothing in the novel that couldn't happen tomorrow right outside your window."
Donna Seaman - Booklist (starred review)
"Wolfe, the impish, white-suited satirist, eviscerates a city-in-flux as he did with New York in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) and Atlanta in A Man in Full (1988). This is a shrewd, riling, and exciting tale of a volatile, diverse, sun-seared city where 'everybody hates everybody.'"
Library Journal - Audio
Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities) here returns to familiar themes: race, sex, class, and society. Set in Miami, the novel (with some digressions) ostensibly tells the story of Nestor Camacho, a Cuban American policeman, but as with Wolfe’s other fiction the real focus is on larger issues in American society. And as is the case with his other books, this broader focus is a weakness. The characters are secondary to the wider themes, often to the detriment of a listener’s interest in and engagement with the story. This is alleviated to some extent by the fine narration by actor Lou Diamond Phillips but eventually makes this a less-than-stellar audiobook experience.

Verdict Of interest to Wolfe fans.—Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619691742
Publisher:
Hachette Audio
Publication date:
11/13/2012
Edition description:
Abridged
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.50(d)

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Meet the Author

Tom Wolfe is the author of more than a dozen books, among them such bestselling contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale. He lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
March 2, 1931
Place of Birth:
Richmond, Virginia
Education:
B.A. (cum laude), Washington and Lee University, 1951; Ph.D. in American Studies, Yale University, 1957
Website:
http://www.tomwolfe.com

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Back to Blood 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
I've been a Wolfe fan since the 1960s. In BtoB, the author displays a wonderful condensation of his skills. Perhaps like good wine, age improves storytellers. I can't imagine a more engaging, enjoyable romp through the craziness of the colliding ethnicities and cultures of Miami. His characters are easily accessible. Folks you probably know. Their motivations may be convoluted and their accents a struggle, but at no time during my time with this book, despite some really creative situations, did I find myself saying, "No way!" As odd as some of the interactions get, none felt contrived or not true to the character. Back to Blood is a tale of expectations -- both the ones fulfilled, and the ones that slip away. It's loud, raw and absorbing. Mr. Wolfe treats this major city like one might treat an old friend, with lots of quirks and issues, but still someone to be loyal to. A great deal of research and time on the ground must have gone into this book and it shows. I recommend it to anyone with a taste for Florida's sunshine, rum drinks and a skeptical sense when it comes to fine art and/or ethnicity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Somehow couldn't stop reading this book, as I have read all of his. However, this one had repetitive odd words to indicate sound effects and odd punctuation. I found it completely took me out of the story and it was highly irritating. I don't know if I would have read it if I had known beforehand. The characters were also not very fully drawn, and most completely unlikable. I'm quite ambivalent about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom Wolf is a great American author. Bonfire of the Vanities is my favorite book, Back to Blood is another great novel. I was upset when I finished because I wanted to read more. I couldn't put this book down, I'd fall asleep reading it & start reading again when I wake up at night. Wolf with his acurate portrait of our time is a modern day Dickens.
Babette-dYveine More than 1 year ago
I love Tom Wolfe! His writing is so alive and descriptive. This book is no different. His use of written sound effects get you right into the action. And his character descriptions make you feel like you're standing right next to the person. I've read several of his books and they're always fun to read, but there are also social commentaries that bring it down to earth. I didn't find Back to Blood as biting as Bonfire of the Vanities, but there is still much to enjoy. And I did.
Otisfield More than 1 year ago
This book is irreverent, definitely not PC, tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at the extremes of characters, but loads of romping fun. You just have to let yourself get into the excess that is the Miami he is writing about. You will either love it or hate it. For those who read Wolfe's "A Man in Full" and loved it, you will probably love this one too. Beneath it all are some characters who actually have morals and personal strength. Have fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audiobook version of "Back to Blood" and, as long as it was, I was sorry when it concluded.  Wolfe is a dynamite story- teller, and the narration by Lou Diamond Phillips added greatly to the book's appeal.  Not only did Mr. Phillips perfectly capture the sardonic tone of Wolfe's third person description of events, each character's spoken words were delivered in a dialect and expression perfectly matching his/her ethnicity and personality.  A delightful listening experience!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good beginning then it drags. It gets moving again toward the end before falling on its face!
mysteryman38 More than 1 year ago
Wolfe's literary style varies with each book, and this one is no less unique than his earlier works. It is entertaining to the core and has his usual reflections on society's social problems, but the way he tells it is the glory of this novel. It is raucously funny and he doesn't fail to slam every hypocrisy in Miami. Truly a great read and another fabulous effort by one of America's great writers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all his books. This is not his best, but still very good.
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vivacioussilliness More than 1 year ago
I’m not certain Wolfe got this one right. The racial tensions in Miami are there but I think Wolfe might need to come out and talk one to one with Miami’s youth. This one lacked the authenticity of his other works.
redinfang More than 1 year ago
Miami is a cauldron of ethnic groups for Wolfe to play with. It has wealth like no other city I have seen and it dangerously displays it. There is so much culture in Miami for a man of Wolfe’s caliber to draw upon too. Much of it he got right in Back to Blood, though some of the youth culture not so accurate. All in all though, it was a fun read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of my time. Since I was dumb enough to buy this book I felt obligated to finish it. The book needs less wordy description, more story, and some attempt at editing, (wires holding up a sailboat mast are "stays" not "cables." ) The ending is weak; something you would expect from a first time novelist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
doody More than 1 year ago
Like another reviewer I loved A Man in Full.  This is dreadful.  The characters are under developed.  And although I was anxious to get to the end and quit reading the drivel, the ending totally left me hanging.  Nothing was resolved.  It was as if Tom Wolfe was as tired of writing the story as I was of reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago