Wolfe kicks off the Miami Book Fair to talk about
his new book, "Back to Blood," November
12, 2012, in Miami, Florida. Here, he autographs a
book prior to taking the stage at Miami Dade
— Here are the things you might not know about Tom
Wolfe: He prefers the tango to salsa dancing. He fondly
remembers the flamingos at Hialeah Park. He has sipped
Cuban coffee at Versailles. And he’s not crazy about
hip-hop but likes country music, if only for the song
yes. He wore one of his famous white suits — with
black and white checked socks, no less — when he
kicked off the 29th Miami Book Fair International on
81, was in Miami to talk about his new novel "Back
to Blood" (Little, Brown, $30), set in an
ethnically embattled, riotous Miami he researched from
the strip clubs of Sunny Isles Beach to the pastelito
shops of Hialeah.
knew so little but had a lot of fun," he told the
full house of his time here, which is documented in the
film "Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood." In
conversation with former Mayor Manny Diaz — who will
speak about his own book, "Miami Transformed:
Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a
Time," Wolfe was more stooped than you might
remember, but happy to ramble on amiably after Diaz’s
to Blood," he said, started out as a desire to
write about immigration, but every time he’d tell
someone about his new subject, "they’d say, ‘Oh,
that’s really interesting,’ and then they’d go to
sleep standing up like a horse," he said. But he
kept working the idea, finally focusing on Cuban
American immigrants and the way they have shaped the
novel touches on potentially explosive themes, but that’s
necessary in fiction, Wolfe believes. A former
journalist who pioneered the New Journalism with works
like "The Right Stuff" and "The Electric
Kool-Aid Acid Test," he strives to make his fiction
deeply grounded in fact.
few writers want to touch the subject of race and
ethnicity. It makes people nervous," Wolfe said.
"But that’s what America is all about. It’s the
great meeting place of people from all over the
talked about his friendship with former Police Chief
John Timoney, art ("artists are the best real
estate developers") and even had a chuckle at a
question from an audience member about an essay he wrote
calling John Updike, Norman Mailer and John Irving
"My Three Stooges."
he told the audience that even with all his research, he
couldn’t hope to sum up Miami.
no blanket statement I could make," he admitted.
"There’s such variety."
if he did capture the pulse of the city, Wolfe has no
plans to put another chronicler of Miami out of
Hiaasen is in a league by himself," he said.
"I think I’ve read every word he’s ever
written. I wouldn’t even think of topping him."