Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe

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Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

I guess when you are a great novelist you can be lazy because that’s the only way I can describe this audio book which began with such interest and just dropped dead in what should have been the middle of a plot. Instead, Wolfe takes you through an intricate tale involving the Cuban Community in Florida near Miami — Hialeah, Little Cuba — and then stops.

The book is read in such compelling style by Lou Diamond Phillips. Wolfe’s writing is phenomenal, of course. He is a great writer. He writes in 3D. Literally. The story unfolds not just in one-dimensional telling of  a story but in a complex multiplicity of levels and no one brings that out better than Phillips.

The story is about sex. Not a lot of sex, but some sex. And it is about a Cuban police officer who is having troubles being accepted by the White police establishment. He’s caught between the rejection of both worlds, and that explodes when he finds himself trying to save a Cuban refugee fleeing Castro’s Cuba.

Ameriican law is that if you can make it to American soil, the US must grant you sanctuary. But, if you are caught before you step foot on American soil, then back to Cuba you must go. Saving a refugee from hanging from a refugee boat mast puts the refugee on a boat back to Cuba, and that upsets everyone from the Cuban community, to his family Hai Camillo Camacho is his father (what a great name) to his girlfriend who dumps him and ends up hooking up with her employer, a sex therapist and later with a Russia mobster involved in fake paintings that our hero, Nestor Comacho.

Wolfe does a great job exploring the world of Cuban refugees in Florida, the sex trade and the Russian mobsters, as well as racism that exists so graphically.

Yet, Wolfe let’s us down.

The book goes no where. There is no dramatic ending. It’s almost as if he got to a chapter and just stopped writing. So depressing, yet so much interesting facts weaved into the story about the Cuban community, Cuban culture and race. And he goes into anatomical detail when referring to sex, a noun commonly used — mons pubis.

Look it up folks. It’s that kind of detail, instead of just saying “va-gi-nah” that makes the book so fascinating in detail.

I enjoyed it right up until Wolfe retired writing it. Abruptly. Leaving me hanging. Leaving me wanting more. Come on, Tom. Write. Make an ending that climaxes like the descriptions on every page of the novel.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania