Epic . . . Slog
“It’s like a dog walking on its hind legs. It’s not done well, but the surprise is that it’s done at all.”
Sad to say, that’s my take on octogenarian Thomas Wolfe’s most recent (and last?) effort, “Back to Blood.”
Who but Wolfe could conjure — for the umpteenth time — such an epic (700 page-plus ) stew of popular culture, politics, and melodrama reflecting years of on-location research.
Wolfe’s latest focus: the Cuban-American community in modern-day Miami, and its symbiotic relationship with “Americano” culture.
At age 81, though, the energy of such a Herculean effort seems to be exacting its toll.
Unlike Wolfe’s best, earlier works (“Bonfire of the Vanities,” “A Man in Full”), it just doesn’t have the same narrative “pop” that compels you to keep reading.
On the contrary: for the first time ever (for me) reading a Tom Wolfe book, I’m stalled out (at page 280), and have temporarily set the book aside.
My advice: if you’re looking for your Tom Wolfe “fix” . . . revisit one of his earlier works.
Or, read anything by Michael Lewis, Wolfe’s true literary heir (say twice, fast).