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 best-selling novels, Back to Blood is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times.
©2012 Tom Wolfe (P)2012 Hachette
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I was so worried Tom Wolfe would not produce the same masterful social commentary that he so amazingly spins in Charlotte Simmons, Bonfire and Man in Full but he does in Back to Blood. I was a little disappointed with the ending but other than that, it's classic Tom Wolfe. Lou Diamond Phillips is phenomenal...very good casting.
"A Tom Wolfe Classic"
I enjoyed this story as much as A Man in Full. Part of what makes a story great is the adventure of learning things you never knew about a culture and a region, interesting things, and often fascinating things. I was completely captured over and over as this story careens from one cultural clique to another. We follow an unwilling and unlikely protagonist in Nestor Camacho a pumped up Cuban and Miami cop, almost a Keystone cop in the way he tries his best just to keep from screwing up yet winds up time and again as the center of Miami's media focus - as both a hero and a villan. Great story. Great characters. Great performance.
"I get it, I get it, I GET IT!!!!!"
Yes, I'm a fan of Tom Wolfe. I keep the hope.
Not this one, and it pains me to say that
Lou Diamond Phillips has many convincing voices and gives a great show
yes, but irritating
Mr Wolfe's use of repeated, repeated, repeated words and phrases was probably supposed to paint a picture and impress the reader of the importance of that sentiment. It worked for the first three or four times, then it turned old, old, old. I felt nagged, nagged, NAGGED and whacked over the head --over and over and over again. Bam, bam, bam, bam...you get the picture. Was the story not long enough? Did he feel he had to quadruple the length of the content? Did he not trust his readers to GET IT? Did he think he was writing a film script? As much as I liked Mr Phillips' dramatic performance, I started to have an urge to stuff a pillow in his face. It is still a credit to Mr Wolfe's story telling genius that I stuck through the whole thing, but irritated, irritated, irritated!!!
"Masterful Story-tel!ing & Great Narration!"
Tom Wolfe has done it again! No one tells a story like Wolfe. As always,l his command of the English language combined with great story-telling and a liberal dose of satire has resulted in a novel that I simply could not stop listening to, even though I really needed to get some sleep. Lou Diamond Phillips' narration was amazing. I didn't feel like he was reading the book, but rather telling a colorful story. I also enjoyed the added production value of Latin music that made me feel like I was actually in Miami. I highly recommend this highly entertaining listen.
"Tom Wolfe + Lou Diamond Phillips = A GREAT LISTEN!"
I have listened to 3 Tom Wolfe Audiobooks and they ALL rank among my top favorite listens! Well worth the credits!
LDP's narration was magnificent! I thought that maybe there was more than one narrator, but it was just him. I am definitely about to search through all the titles that he narrates and see if I can find something else great to listen to.
"Old master breathes new life"
Fabulously accurate portrayal of Miami's underbelly. Wolfe captures all the nuances of this "welding pot" metropolis. Rich characters. Good pacing. And satisfying ending. Like fine wine, Wolfe betters with age.
"Too much. Too much. Too much. Too much. Too much."
Get the picture? Tom Wolfe holds a unique place in American journalism over the past fifty years. Ever since Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers, Mr. Wolfe has been writing extraordinarily over the top stories about whatever catches his fancy. IMHO, the Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full are his best works by far. His gifts are many. His ear for dialects across the country is amazing. He creates some of the most cinematic scenes that you will ever read. Much of his writing is really memorable. He has roamed around our culture and chosen some wide-ranging aspects of it, each of his books being meticulously detailed to the nth degree. Lou Diamond Phillips, BTW, is the perfect narrator for these books. He has actorly skills, but in this book he is forced to make a large number of noises that should have been edited out. Rigorously slashed.
And here lies the problem. Mr. Wolfe is now so large and iconic that editors must blanche at the sight of him. Overdoing is his trademark. There are times when this approach works beautifully. There are other times when he should turn down the volume, way way down. And he doesn't. This is a story about Miami, and about all of its various races-ethnic-cultural-artistic (see what I mean?) dimensions. It is over-reaching, but in some places it hits the mark. Nestor Camacho rescues a Haitian Immigrant from the top of a seventy foot mast, and manages to first climb up the mast with only his arms. Then he grabs the guy with his legs (oh so incredibly muscular) and crabwalks him down to the deck. By this time there is a gigantic traffic jam, newscopters, onlookers, etc. It's a very vivid scene, and it sets up many facets of the plot(s) in a gorgeous, writerly way. You can see why it takes him eight years or so to knock out these monsters. There is so much going on that, after a while, you need a scorecard to keep the players straight. There are Russian "oligarchs" (read: criminals who have stolen much of the riches of the former Soviet Union in order to flash around their wealth); Haitian immigrants and politicians; Cubans everywhere; occasionally a Jew, a WASP, an Italian, you name it. We are the melting pot, and Tom has thrown us all in, stirred, and concocted a heady stew of stuff (stop me before I start getting rhapsodical). Nestor's girlfriend at the beginning is Magdalena Otero, a naif who is so blazingly beautiful that she gets drawn into the upper echelons of Miami's richest. She works for a psychiatrist who specializes in "pornography addiction." Norman, the psychiatrist, is a shameless self-promoter and a disgusting individual in his own right. Ghislaine is a (of course) beautiful young woman, the daughter of a professor who is being forced to teach Creole, the language of the lowest of the immigrants. See how this is beginning to pile up all around you? I could go on, but I wish that Tom hadn't. By the third segment I really couldn't stand the book any more. Waaay too much of a sometimes good thing.
"Great performance by Lou Diamond Phillips"
Bonfire of the Vanities
The acting by the reader was far better than reading the book. I
"Spectacular! Is That Clear Enough?"
First off, there are no better performers in this genre than Lou Diamond Phillips. He is a genius. Okay... now for what he performed...
Since listening to Back To Blood, I have read the reviews. Apparently the NYT, Boston Globe, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, and on and on... Seemed bent on dismissing this book. The kind of catty poseurs who Wolfe undresses in his books seemed to have struck a consensus.... "Well," they smear. "We've read this book before. Every since Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe has played the same old note revealing what he seems to think is the dysfunctional culture of the cultural elite." And of course each of these reviewers and publications represent the 'cultural elite.' Yet instead of criticizing Wolf'e arguments, they dismiss him as 'old news'. Hmmmm... I wonder if, by this reasoning any of those publications should ever run with another rape story - since after the first - all are old news. Or should they publish/broadcast/post another corruption story, or for that matter, another brittle praise for a naked new artist clothed only in the superlatives that their 'critics' layer over this month's darling?
Yep, Wolfe goes farther and deeper in Back To Blood in his riposte and ridicule of the asininities of the cognoscenti, the PC crowd, and the literary, art, political, and publishing elite. Worse ye,t for these reviewers, Wolfe is entertaining... his work, unlike most which they endorse, has the power to communicate its message to a broad swath of the public. Wolfe' worse sin is his power to resonate.
And Back To Blood resonates with the same sort of gong as the great social critics of the 20s, 30s, and 40s rang as the revealed the emptiness of the pretentious elites of their moment (does the name Gatsby resonate here?). This is today's great American Novel and should be read as part of an ongoing and deepening exposé along with Bonfire Of The Vanities, A Man In Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. John Updike once dismissed Wolfe as "an entertainer" and not a creator of literature. And there is a very real danger that Updike's trifling cocktail favorite but so... so... tame works will be remembered because of their cultural safety, while Wolfe will be kept off of the required reading lists with which we train and grow our literati.
Back To Blood is a great novel. It demands a spot on the same shelf as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Upton Sinclair,Sinclair Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, John Steinbeck, and Joseph Heller, John O'Hara, and Robert Penn Warren. Actually this entire series of Wolfe's books should be thought of as one work... each deepening the reader's understanding of a time and place in America's history and stagnation.
European elitists have often dismissed America as a place that passed from barbarism to decadence without ever experiencing civilization. To the degree that they are correct, Wolfe's revealing the pathway and the facilitators ... the enablers. What's particularly interesting though is that the ensemble of actors in Wolfe's epic, multi-novel drama. may be much too familiar to the very European cognoscenti who so easily condescend their American cousins.
"Lou Diamond Phillips should get an EMMY"
The narration by Lou Diamond Phillips make BACK TO BLOOD superb entertainment. Tom Wolfe brought America's greatest city to life with his characters - my wife and I listened to the book for several nights, often replaying chapters as they were so interesting the second time round.
All of the characters came alive, MIAMI was the best!
All of his narration was a performance - please let me know if he's doing any more. He bumped prime time TV for the week!
Wouldn't that be fun? I feel that I have already taken them out to dinner, Hell they were bed with my wife and I all week!
Tom Wolfe has written the perfect pilot for a series on Miami. We were sad to come to the end, there is so much more. BRILLIANT.
This is an excellent, cleverly written and funny book. As with all Tom Wolfe's main characters, there is a greek tragedy development of hubris, nemesis and catharsis, with many well developed minor characters playing alongside. And the reader is quite excellent, really the best I have heard, regardless of whether he is doing men or women, hispanic, black or white. The reader pushes my rating from a 4 to a 5 star. There is only one slight negative and that is that Tom Wolfe employs a peculiar narative device for emphasis and that is to repeat himself, repeat himself, repeat himself. After a while it actually gets a bit annoying, annoying, annoying. But thats really quite minor compared to the overall pleasure from listening to this book.
"Magnificent prose, read by a pro"
Brilliant! Exceptional descriptions, fantastic characters, and read in a most entertaining way. Couldn't fault it!
"Great pace, fabulous insight"
Sharply written, incisive, beautifully observed. This book has pace, tension, humour and paints a revealing, disturbing and often hilarious picture of Miami life
Bonfire of the Vanities - the only other Tom Wolfe I've read
He portrays accents well, and brings the often deliberately absurd repetitive phrases to life.
It certainly made me laugh, and kept me enthral led throughout. I was sad when the 20 hours was over
"Excellent story and performance"
Tom Wolfe strikes again with an incredibly good narration. I really enjoyed. Waiting to listening to The Bonfire of Vanities by L. D. Phillips!!
"Will challenge you. But you'll keep listening."
The book was a long worthwhile listen. Written and read aloud from the heart. I didn't agree with all his conclusions, which at times a little too contrived and sentimental. But in the whole really compelled me to listen. And think.
"Very Very Good"
I was so disappointed when this book ended I wanted it to go on forever ( well at least until I had finished the ironing). Well written, hilarious, and a perfect listen
Great book. Not too keen on LDP's French pronunciation or his portrayal of the Porn Doctor's laughter, but great overall performance.
"Moments of excellence - ultimately disapointing"
He uses a very similar formula to bonfire of the Vanities and Man in Fall to much greater effect. The characters here seemed shallower and less thought through, the comedy didnt always work and the pacing felt off.
I've not heard LDP before but thought he was very good
I think an amount of hype is always likely to anything by Tom Wolfe and will be compared to his earlier work. I think BTB suffers as a result of this.
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