Feel like playing “You make the call?”

By Mad Dog
Published: Nov 03, 2012

Here are the concluding paragraphs of two reviews of Tom Wolfe’s new novel. One is from his hometown Bible, the New York Times. The other is from the Financial Times, based in London. Which is which? And which one would you tend to believe? 

Back to Blood is as fraudulent as the forged paintings at the center of its plot, falling victim to the social diseases it pretends to diagnose: gigantism, self-indulgence, superficiality masking as profundity, a hyperactive, hyperbolic acquisitiveness and an endless taste for the crudely obvious….When a character is dumbfounded, Wolfe informs us that this observation was ‘very much including the word’s literal meaning: speechless.’ All I can say is that Back to Blood also left me dumbfounded, very much including the word’s literal meaning.”

“Wolfe’s work, always more occupied with the social than the self, springs from the same premise. He believes that the forest makes the trees, not the other way around, and that’s why he will be remembered as a formidable replicator of times and places rather than a great creator of characters…. Tom Wolfe’s achievement, however incomplete, remains buoyant and considerable…..”