"At this point, the Mayor's expression and his tone turned fatherly, 'Cy, I want to tell you a couple of things about this city. These are things you probably already know, but sometimes it helps to hear them out loud. I know it helps me... Miami is the only city in the world, as far as I can tell - in the world - whose population is more than fifty percent recent immigrants. . . recent immigrants, immigrants from over the past fifty years. . . and that's a hell of a thing, when you think about it. So what does that give you? It gives you - I was talking to a woman about this the other day,a Haitian lady, and she says tome, "Dio, if you really want to understand Miami, you got to realize one thing first of all. In Miami, everybody hates everybody."
. . . But we can't leave it at that. We have a responsibility, you and me. We got to make Miami - not a melting pot, because that's not gonna happen, not in our lifetimes. We can't melt 'em down, but we can weld 'em down.. . What do I mean by that? I mean we can't mix them together, but we can forge a secure place for each nationality, each ethnic group, each race, and make sure they're all on the same level plane.'" (Page 424).
And it is Wolfe's stylistic description of this process of welding the groups down that makes his latest work of fiction such an enjoyable literary journey. He weaves together characters and threads that refuse to cleanly assimilate with one another.
- A shameless social climbing Anglo schlock psychiatrist, Dr. Norman Lewis, who is trying to become the next Dr. Phil as a subject matter expert on pornography addition.
- His Cuban psychiatrist nurse, Magdalena, who is also his lover and co-conspirator.
- Nestor Camacho, a Cuban cop who cannot help himself from alienating both the Cuban and African-American communities with his super-hero exploits that somehow always end upon the front page of the Miami Herald.
- Edward T. Topping IV, Yale educated WASP who is the new editor in chief of the Miami Herald.
- John Smith, Topping's overzealous cub reporter, also WASP and Yale educated, who is eager to expose a scandal of forgery at Miami's new art museum.
- Sergei Korolyov, Russian oligarch and benefactor who donated $70 Million worth of modern art - forged - to make Miami's art museum a destination.
- Professor Lantier, light-skinned Haitian academic who desperately wants his even-more-fair-complexioned daughter, Ghislaine, to be able to pass as white and French, rather than Haitian.