‘Back To Blood’ — Tom Wolfe On Men, Women, And Miami

John Hayden photo

John Hayden photo

Tom Wolfe’s tour of contemporary America continues in “Back To Blood.”

The Bonfire of the Vanities (film)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Wolfe’s other blockbusters — The Right Stuff, Bonfire Of The Vanities, and A Man In Full  Back To Blood focuses on Men and Manhood in the big cities of modern America. Wolfe has  vividly portrayed New York City and Atlanta. This time, the setting is Miami.

In Back To Blood, Wolfe writes about Real Men doing Real Work for the Right Reasons. The heroes are policemen, followed closely by newspapermen. Not a single female police officer or reporter in sight. Not exactly a politically correct portrayal of contemporary America!

Nestor Camacho is a young Cuban cop, intelligent and without guile, self-effacing and polite, god-fearing, muscular. Continue reading

Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake in “Trouble With The Curve”

You want romance and character development? See Bull Durham.  Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams in Trouble With The Curve aren’t in the same league with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham.

Trouble With The Curve is all Clint Eastwood. The romance is fluff. Baseball is only the setting. Trouble With The Curve is about life and loss, failure and decline, maybe even aging gracefully. Not that I’m calling Clint Eastwood graceful.

Trouble With The Curve begins as a baseball movie that only a grumpy old man could love. But it fools you like a curveball in the dirt, and turns into, of all things, a chick flick. It might be the best baseball/romance combination since Bull Durham. Both movies are about life-changing events, about going with the curveballs life throws at you.

How do you get away with casting Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in the same film? You add Amy Adams as daughter of the old man and love interest of the young one.

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Anne Tyler — ‘Noah’s Compass’ — The End

Liam and Eunice were in the blush of romance, last we saw them. That didn’t last long, naturally. What “Noah’s Compass” needs is a little more love and a little less reality. I won’t spoil the story by revealing the details of the relationship’s failure. It was painful, and sad, and just plain disappointing. But you knew that.

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Anne Tyler — ‘Noah’s Compass’ — Take 2

I’ve read nearly 100 more pages of “Noah’s Compass.” When we left Liam Pennywell, he was alone and depressed, and, as he put it, “Almost waiting to die.” Naturally, Anne Tyler wasn’t going to let Liam’s story go in a straight line.

Liam soon becomes involved with a younger woman, a woman who says, “My parents think I’m a failure.” Next thing you know, Liam’s teen-age daughter, Kitty, has moved out of her mother’s house and settled in  Liam’s den, for the summer. Liam’s romantic interest, Eunice, is coming over every evening, under the pretense of helping him with his resumé, Kitty’s teen-age boyfriend visits all the time, and Liam is providing taxi service for the two teens. ‘Nother words, Liam’s life is getting complicated.

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Anne Tyler — ‘Noah’s Compass’ — Take 1

It doesn’t take long for Anne Tyler to establish our hero, Liam Pennywell, as a  pathetic character. He has been recently “fired,” or “downsized,” depending on your viewpoint, from his teaching job.

In the first few pages of “Noah’s Compass,”  Liam bravely assesses the situation and recognizes that he ought to live more simply and frugally. He gives up his comfortable apartment and moves to a small, nondescript one-bedroom place.

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Anne Tyler — ‘Noah’s Compass’

I’ve got it. Noah’s Compass, the 18th novel by Anne Tyler, one of the great authors of my lifetime. It’s just out in hardback. I don’t buy many books anymore, but I need this one. I think it might be about me.

The dust jacket says Noah’s Compass is the story of Liam Pennywell, “A schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.”  With a name like Liam Pennywell, you know right away he’s not an Alpha Male.

I don’t know which is worse, the lost job or the “final phase.” It sounds so . . .  so Final.

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