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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tom Wolfe vs. Miami - No winner, November 13, 2012
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This review is from: Back to Blood: A Novel (Hardcover)
This was a tough book to get through. It has an interesting story core -- the complicated interactions of Miami's multiple ethnic communities (including WASPS) and the virtues and problems of living in that tropical "paradise". Wolfe's messages here are that the city is a collection of moated villages with severe communications deficiencies and that it has an over population of nut cases, con men, strivers and people on the make. These are all ingredients for a decent story even if Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard have been to the same well before Wolfe; and the author does set in motion some potentially interesting principal characters--an ambitious young Cuban cop, an equally ambitious, beautiful Cuban nurse, an ambitious young WASP investigative reporter, a ruthless Russian oligarch, a crazed, social climbing psychiatrist and a dozen or so diverse secondary characters.

For some reason, however, Wolfe chose to write this story in a kind of stream-of-consciousness fashion that records every thought, every quirk of pronunciation, every grunt of every character. These asides or additions turn the story line sluggish and difficult to follow and really don't do much to make the already two-dimensional characters more substantive or understandable. In fact, none of the characters in this book are consistently admirable, intelligent, moral or interesting. Each has an occasional moment, with the young cop probably coming out better than most of the rest. But even with that almost-admirable character, there are so many inconsistencies in his behavior and intelligence, it's difficult to accept him as credible or sympathetic.

I'm a Tom Wolfe fan, but I think that his previous novels are superior to "Back to Blood."
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 12, 2013 1:33:02 PM PDT
Dave Migdal says:
"For some reason, however, Wolfe chose to write this story in a kind of stream-of-consciousness fashion that records every thought, every quirk of pronunciation, every grunt of every character."

You write that you're a Tom Wolfe fan and then you post this? This happens to be Tom Wolfe's style....always has been, always will be....

Posted on Mar 15, 2013 9:09:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2013 11:00:03 AM PDT
Of course the characters aren't particularly admirable. This is "satire." The more repugnant the character, the more sharp the satire. A person who gets the joke will laugh at the characters and the situations because it's all so truthful. Humor is an outstanding way of exposing the truth; Wolfe is a great humorist and observer of the American scene.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013 10:20:27 AM PDT
DM - Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. I don't remember Wolfe's earlier books the way you do. So we'll have to disagree on this one. Regards, Barry

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013 10:29:48 AM PDT
DFW - Thanks for the observation. You're right of course about the point of satire; most of Wolfe's books are satiric and work pretty well. This one--in my opinion--was a hot mess. The sharpness of the lampoons lost in the asides and body noises and the characters veering off into cartoonishness. I prefer most of his earlier works to this one. Regards, Barry

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013 8:36:35 PM PDT
Blue, I gotcha now. My copy is inbound, so keeping my fingers crossed for a good read.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 6:03:14 AM PDT
DFW - Right, and keep in mind that the reviewer who wrote the most favorable review (and did have the problems that I did) found a lot of agreement from his/her readers. I hope you enjoy it. Regards, Barry
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