Tom Wolfe Genius
Bonfire of the Vanities - same hilariously insidious sadistic approach to character development - utterly impossible to put down - jokes within jokes wrapped in jokes in every paragraph. If you read the same paragraph 12 times, you'll double over laughing for 12 different reasons - it reads like a knife through butter but every sentence is densely packed.
Strong, Bad Spanish
have to think about that one
My point in writing this is to encourage Audible to get a different narration - even if by the same guy - Phillips is excellent but fails fatally in one absolutely critical area: Cuban Spanish. Spanish in general, actually. For example, an important character goes to a Cuban gym called "Ññññññño, Qué Gym!", which is short for "Coño! What a gym!". "Coño" is like saying "whoa!" is English, but a bit more profane. You pronounce ño like this "nyo". But Phillips says "no". Now, I'm not Cuban and I'm not an expert in Spanish and I had hoped to benefit from hearing all of the Spanish in this book pronounced with a proper Miami Cuban accent, but EVERY GRINGO who knows the slightest thing about Cuba knows that it's nyo, not no! Everybody says ñññño all the time. It was practically the first thing I learned to say when I was in Cuba. If he gets THIS wrong, everything is suspect, and sure enough, a few pages later he says "DEE os me oh" instead of "dyos me oh" for "my god". This is not a Cubanism. It's just plain old "my God". In any Spanish dialect it's gonna be "dyos me oh" - one syllable on Dios. Again, EVERYBODY says "ay dios mío" (oh my god) over and over and over. If you can say "dee os me oh" and not hear that it sound wrong ... that's not good.
So, in summary, Tom Wolfe might be the greatest writer of fiction of the last century and this book is another stunning example of his art - it just needs a more authentic narration. It's too bad because in every other way Phillips is eminently listenable. I'd give him at least 4 stars if not for the horrendous errors in Spanish.
Seductively irreverent satire
Engaging narrative envelops Wolfe's relentlessly intelligent allegory and perceptive wit as he enthusiastically dissects the revered, the iconic, the pretentious and the ugly.
Just as Wolfe endows each of his characters a unique voice, so is each unmistakably projected by Phillips.
The flow of internal monologue, throughout.
So very successful on so may levels, in a word, brilliant.
Wolfe skewers ethnic groups and the wealthy in this satirical send up of life in modern multiethnic Miami. His repartees embellish a boy meets girl tale (or girl meets boy) with insights and characterizations that are amusing though occasionally over the top. There is a bit of Bonfire of the Vanities in here. It’s an amusing story which he might not have quite figured out how to end properly.
I would recommend it to someone that liked Tom Wolfe's writing but I would beg them not to buy it on audio. The brain can skip over words that are repeated in print because it allows your eyes to simply skim over them, but when you're listening to words spoken over and over it is maddening. One can't just fast-forward! Numerous times I had to force myself to continue listening to this book - I found myself saying outloud "I get it already - MOVE ON."
For the most part, the characters were one-dimensional and very unlikeable, but that really wasn't a big surprise. The story is about a bunch of self-centered people and even though the focus is on Miami, it could have been any one of dozen places. Nestor, Magdalena and the young Haitian college girl whose name I have already forgotten, were the only characters with any depth and they were pretty shallow. These just weren't people I'd care to actually know and I don't think Wolfe cared about readers liking these characters. The story, such as it was, just petered out, but by the end, I couldn't have cared less. The constant repetition of words for effect made me cringe. If I am capable of enjoying a Tom Wolfe book, do I REALLY need to have him beating me over the head with what is happening?? Does he really believe that his readers are too dense to imagine the sounds he is describing, or the feelings, or whatever is being repeated?
Lou Diamond Phillips did a wonderful job giving voice to the folks at the active seniors home, but otherwise it was so-so! It bothered me that he mispronounced words, however that was much easier to overlook than listening to him reading words repeatedly. LDP is a good actor and he brought a lot of life to the story, such as it was.
NO!! It's not a great story and the chances of getting a screenwriter and director who would turn it into something sparkling are slim. I wouldn't waste my money to see it in a theater and I doubt I'd even watch it on a premium channel - unless I absolutely had nothing else to watch.
Tom Wolfe is an excellent writer. He captures banality better than almost anyone I've ever read, but he also shared some thought-provoking insight regarding the great American mixing pot of Miami. One last thing - it is not yet against the law to text and drive in Florida as he had Nestor Camacho stating.
Yes....but not for a while....it got me interested, kept up some good suspense, but was monotonous in it shrillness and lack of character development. Could not decide which was more racist, Tom's own attempts to portray people of different race's thought process (or lack thereof), and dialogue in fact make the book ironically seem like a view into the author's own clear cultural bias and outright racism and sexism.
Magdalena- I did see some aspects of the problems faced by Latinas (yes only in America is that word used Tom- one of your better points) who enter into American culture as defined in the way Tom does, as less of a melting pot and more of a pot full of metal utensils that never do get to melting, just clanking into one another without much chance of more than some casual interplay. However. she is the only character who I feel expresses what seem to be "real" feelings that I have seen in my own life's experience as a person who is married to someone from South America (but who came to the US in her teens not born here, as Magdalena certainly was). Mr. Wolfe's zest for "keeping it real" and using dialogue and characters he has learned to create from his life's research, seem to show an appalling lack of insight into the actual cultures he deals with, rather he has a very surface, caricature like view of almost every race he describes, sadly.
Nestor, as the only really decent person in the novel (Magdalena is decent but her failings lie in her humanity and social climbing). Mr. Phillips reading of Nestor seems pretty true to character, and while Mr. Phillips joins Mr. Wolf in going overboard in some of the just awful stereotyped language, ebonics, absurdly thick Russian accents, and attitudes...Nestor is mostly a breath of fresh air whom Mr. Phillips really may enjoy acting the part of. There may find one of two characters that are given that we can hold on to and like, but never really understand.
Well, it certainly ended much more quickly than I expected so rather than a follow up I would have liked to seen more resolution to the lives of the characters, especially, Gislain and her father, and even Nestor and Magdalena.
Sure the major plot lines and some loose ends are tied up nicely (not that it was hard to predict the outcomes from the beginning).
Given their utility in fairly isolated parts of the story one could argue that characters, like Gislain (the Hatian girl with the "white face"), and her brother and dad, were mainly tossed in so as not to leave out a major community in the Miami area,. not that any race is spared any more than the Simpsons spares stereotyping every ethnic and social group it gets its hands one, but I don't think Mr. Wolf sought to be like an unfunny version of a Simpsons movie.
The weak coverage of the thought processes the oh so narrow minded parents of the heroes/heroines in the book, seem to be a big part of the reason for the books seming total lack of grasp into the main character's inner dialogue being so vapid and only ego focused. The experiences that make people who they are in the book are largely left to the sweeping generalizations that the book seems to be wishing did not exist (or does it?). It is about race, but certainly never delves into much more than to scratch of the surface and the stereotypical behaviors we have come to see in our media, and sadly novels like this when they give lip service to Latin/Spanish Americans (yes only in America do we have that word), African Americans, Haitians, and even the poor rich WASPS that Mr. Wolf loves to hate (self loathing?)....alas Tom, time for some meditation in the mountains I think...or is it too late, maybe a road trip with Further (what remains of the Grateful Dead touring groups).? Left me a bit cold, but entertained at least...that Normal laugh witll never leave you-Thanks Lou Diamond Phillips for nailing that laugh!
I thought that Tom Wolf, who's last book I read, and loved, was "The Elektric Kool-Aid Acid Test (yes it speaks poorly of my keeping up with the times of Mr. Wolf), did not pick up much from what I felt he surely must have learned from his time living and writing in one of the most iconic of times, the Haight-Ashbury/Grateful Dead/Merry Prankster explosion onto the world scene from the innocent and greatly characterized small group of people that Tom was privileged to spend a great deal of time with. That book suffered a lot less from lack of understanding its characters, but then again he spoke of real people in that book and therefore he understood his characters. Tom seems to have devolved from the man who wrote that book, his disdain for social climbing, the so called "elite" and apparent dislike (or is it an embrace with a pained look on his face) seems to remain, but one can not help feel that Tom is as in touch with his inner feelings and those of his characters ad as his most heinous character in his book, Norman (is there really a psychiatrist whose sole specialty is pornography addiction?). It is hard to not fall into this story and find\ oneself enjoying it, but having it read to you really brings home even further, just how troublingly racist the book itself seems, unintentionally or intentionally-politicl correctness is not necessary but when one feels like they have to look around the room to be sure nobody hear's them listening to narration of a book, well its problematic IMHO. Decent story, hard to like prose, and hard to like characters...hence hard to like author (In spite of his many gifts)?
Way better than Charlotte Simmons, not so good as Man in Full. A terrific reading by Lou Diamond Phillips gets the flavor and pizzazz of Wolfe's idiosyncratic writing. Listening to Mr Phillips' energetic interpretation was BETTER than reading the print version.
Cuban neighborhood cop learns about the bigger world of race politics, women, and media. His traditionally minded, but ambitious girlfriend leans what it means to be used by powerful men. Will they break up or stay together? It's a weak narrative that is just a frame for Wolfe's social commentary. So, if you are looking for a great story, it's not here.
But Wolfe delivers the details. It's a smokey ride through Miami so rich you can feel the heat. Riding a small story about a art forgery, we learn a lot about Miami and it's race relations and it's immigrant base. Along the way Wolfe skewers pornography disguised as art, pornography, the super rich, strippers, reality TV, sycophantic social wanna be's, cops, newspaper reporters, black, whites, Cubans, Russians, and active living Jewish retirees. Wolfe is as sharp as ever blending into the background and commenting on all the things no one can talk about. He takes on subjects that defy polite company like skin color racism, pornography and the decadence of tasteless parties in graphic detail that does not judge. Lou Diamond Phillips is just outstanding in narration, hitting accents and reading flawlessly. I'll look for more of his reading based on this performance.
Where to begin.....maybe a good story? better plot??
something that moves fast, and has a plot!
Love his voice, too bad the material wasn't better
don't think it would have been published.
I know it takes all kinds to make the world go round, or so it's said. But this really was a waste of my time, and credits.....while the premise of the story is solid, the promise of a good read, or in this case, listen, was not fulfilled.
Great story, as expected, from Tom Wolfe, made better by Phillip's outstanding performance.
Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, both by Tom Wolfe. BACK TO BLOOD stands up to them, though in a different way.
Phillips differentiated the voices extremely well, portraying a wide variety of characters with varying accents and sensibilities. He always struck the proper emotional tone and made the most of Tom Wolfe's spoken-word style and frequent overemphasis without distracting the listener from the story. I have seen Phillips play character roles in many films and TV series and was delighted to find what a high level of skill and professionalism he brought to the book as reader. Bravo, Lou Diamond Phillips! I will be looking for him as a reader of other audiobooks in the future.
Many laughs and plenty of tension. No tears, but I didn't expect any from this particular story.
Lou Diamond Phillips was extraordinary as narrator and the story was great. I listened to another Tom Wolfe novel right after because this was so good! It was intelligent yet easy, dealt with difficult issues with levity - I highly recommend.