The Tribes of Post-America
Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe (Little, Brown, 720 pp., $30)

Tom Wolfe (Little, Brown)


Nestor Camacho is a Cuban-American cop whose status anxiety derives from the fact that he is the lone Cuban in the maritime department of the Miami police. Nestor is brave and good, as we quickly realize, and he also proves to be the wise counselor that his name suggests. Initially, however, it is he who needs counseling. His troubles arise when, from a sense of duty but also to win the approval of his fellow cops, Nestor performs an astounding physical feat in the course of rescuing a would-be Cuban immigrant from death. This rescue, however, also prevents the refugee from setting foot on land and thus from winning asylum. To the cops he is now a credit to his profession; to the Cuban community he is a traitor to his race. Even his own family shuns him. At this low point in his fortunes, but coincidentally, Nestor’s girlfriend, Magdalena, leaves him to become the mistress of a would-be-famous psychiatrist, Norman Lewis, who specializes in treating sex-addiction cases among the very rich.

Magdalena is fundamentally a decent girl, but she is foolishly in thrall to celebrity and to Norman’s near-fame, and Norman, though a priest in the psychiatry cult, is a secret worshiper in the cult of sex. His real faith emerges when he takes Magdalena to what starts as a regatta for young WASP kids but ends up as a large open-air orgy by the sea. Disgusted by the evident fact that Norman wants her to take part in these festivities, she decides to transfer her affections elsewhere. Soon, a glamorous Russian billionaire and art collector, Sergei Korolyov, wanders into view at a cocktail party, and asks her for her telephone number.

May 20, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 9

  • It’s not what the senator promised, but he’s defending it anyway.
  • Nobody knows how to make a pencil, or a health-care system.
  • And its critics can relax.
  • We should be optimistic about their future.
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