Tom Wolfe Weekender NOVEL APPROACH: Miami heat

December 6th, 2012


By Kacy Muir, Weekender Correspondent

Dec 5
 Tom Wolfe has made his triumphant return to fiction – this time in “Back to Blood,” a novel that takes readers to Miami, and more importantly, a world of glitz, gaud, and legs for miles. Wolfe, whose literary influence dates back to the 1960s, first gained notoriety with the New Journalism movement and non-fiction work “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”
In his new novel, readers watch the peepshow unfold: “The girls were wearing denim shorts with the belt lines down perilously close to the mons veneris and the pants legs cut off up to… here… practically up to the hip socket, and left frayed.” It continues on in the same way: vulgar, perverse, and absolutely fantastic.We meet Nestor, a Cuban-American police officer whose professional life is as troublesome as his personal life. Nelson realizes that his former lover, Magdalena, was not only uncertain about her love for him, but also her identity. It seems Magdalena wants nothing more than to assimilate into the great American background. Nelson becomes a part of her life that she must sever in order to find that American dream.

The idea of identity is an alarming one to Magdalena. When told to dress and act as a Cuban woman, she hesitates. “You’ll make your entrance a la moda cubana. You won’t have to act… like anything! You’ll be the most comfortable, most confident person in the house!” She follows through in the act, but the words mean nothing. She remains uncomfortable in her skin.

As the novel develops, it features profound topics of cultural integration and disintegration. The title of the work then becomes connected to crime and identity – the difference between the blood on our hands and the blood in our veins.

Readers are also introduced to Magdalena’s new boyfriend, Norman, a psychiatrist. We soon realize that he may be more mentally unstable than his patients. Of course, Nestor, Magdalena, and Norman are only a few of the critical players. While Nestor leads much of the narration, Wolfe has created a diverse cast of characters that are connected in themes of crime and identity. The book is composed of subplots, which, though taxing at times, are connected in a grand way.

Overall, Wolfe has a unique voice that carries the same control no matter the writing, demonstrating that a particular genre cannot restrain him. At 81-years-old, it does not look like he has any plans to stop. While not all readers will enjoy Wolfe’s propensity to be outlandish, there is no denying that his youthful wit and insight remain resolute.


Read Full Article