AT 700 pages, Tom Wolfe’s latest tome is a door-stop but worth its weight. The 81-year-old pioneer of New Journalism mines the race relations of Miami’s melting pot.
He creates an ensemble cast of characters, introducing us to Cuban cop Nestor Camacho, whose heroics manage to alienate his own people. The book also features the African American community and porn addiction psychiatrist Dr Norman Lewis, who is sleeping with his nurse and Nestor’s ex Magdalena. Then there is Russian oligarch and art magnate Sergei Korolyov, who catches Magdalena’s eye and cub reporter John Smith, who’s desperate to expose Korolyov as a fraud. Wolfe presents this cast through their thoughts, punctuated by bursts of pure onomatopoeia, such as Nestor’s boat goes “smack” on the water and the music in the strip club goes “beat thung”.
The title comes from the editor of the Miami Herald, whose cameo opens the book, and who pronounces: “Religion is dying... only our blood, the bloodlines that course through our very bodies (is left) to unite us.”
Whether you’re a fan of Wolfe or not, it’s a compelling indictment on the vices of the modern world.