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Tomato Red Paperback – 24 Apr 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (24 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316206210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316206211
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The hero of Daniel Woodrell's Tomato Red is the most endearingly out- of-control loser you're likely to meet. Sammy Barlach looks like a person "who should in any circumstances be considered a suspect"; clerks follow him through the supermarket when he shops; and the police pull him over simply from habit. But in spite of his looks Sammy only wants to be loved, even if it's just by "the bunch that would have me"--and in the hardscrabble world of West Table, Missouri, that's a bunch you wouldn't necessarily want to meet. The novel begins with a heady Methedrine rush as Sammy celebrates payday by letting himself be talked into robbing a nearby mansion. Even when his newfound friends disappear as he's breaking in he persists: "You might think I should've quit on the burglary right there, but I just love people, I guess, and didn't". The break-in leads Sammy into an unlikely alliance with the Merridew family: Jamalee, Jason and their mother Bev, a prostitute in the town's ironically named Venus Holler. Flame-haired Jamalee dreams constantly of a different kind of life and plans on using Jason's extraordinary beauty as her ticket out of West Table. Jason however seems to be shaping up as what Sammy calls "country queer"-- which as Sammy observes "ain't the easiest walk to take amongst your throng of fellow humankind."

Unfortunately for Jamalee Woodrell's Ozarks is a place that rewards ambition with disaster. Here--as in his five previous "country noir" novels--Woodrell writes with a keen understanding of class and a barely contained sense of rage. The residents of West Table's trailer parks and shotgun shacks share Sammy's sense of limited possibilities. "I ain't shit! I ain't shit! shouts your brain", Sammy thinks while wandering around the mansion, "and this place proves the point". Even when Jason sticks up for his own family, the way he does so is heartbreaking: "This expression of utter frankness takes over Jason's beautiful face, and he says, 'I don't think we're the lowest scum in town.' He didn't argue that we weren't scum, just disputed our position on the depth chart". With her mildewing etiquette guides and grandiose plans Jamalee is the only character who doesn't share their sense of defeat, and she's the only one who in the end gets away--though she leaves behind her a trail of betrayal and heartache. By the time the novel's final tragedy rolls around it seems both senseless and inevitable--as tragedies do in real life. Told in a voice that crackles with energy and wit Tomato Red is sharp, funny and--most importantly--true. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Dan Woodrell does for the Ozarks what Raymond Chandler did for Los Angeles." "Richard Eder, "Los Angeles"" Times"""

"A shimmering novel, rich with insight...a pleasure... Zooms on the rocket fuel of Woodrell's explosively original language." "The Washington Post Book World""

"Woodrell's storytelling is as melodic, jangly and energetic as a good banjo riff.... Sammy Barlach's story is a tragedy, but the telling of it is a pleasure." "Valerie Sayers, The New York Times Book Review""

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, written in Woodrell's sparse but beautifully crafted style, really evokes the characters and their environment to great effect. The story is beautifully structured and the voice it is written in is unusual enough to engage the reader, whilst being accessible too. I feel the book has more heart than the more celebrated Winter's Bone and is a rounder book. I have already passed this on and will be buying more books from this writer with a truly unique voice and style.
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Format: Paperback
Daniel Woodrell's books are terse, gripping, and contain some of the best dialogue I have read. Not a wasted word is in there. The plot courses in a, sometimes depressing, realistically random way; there are few artificial plot twists - it's all too plausible.
For readers of Cormac McCaarthy and William Gay - sign up here!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tomato Red reads a bit like a social realist play, with its gritty realism and harsh truths, and small cast of well drawn characters. The dialogue and interactions between Sammy, Jamalee, Jason and Bev is pitch perfect, and Woodrell does an admirable job of immersing the reader in their world. As ever, the prose is nicely crafted, and Woodrell has a deft hand for turning expressive phrasing and sharing interesting observations and insights into social relations. Where the book falls a little short perhaps is with respect to plot, which is quite ponderous at times as if Woodrell is tentatively feeling his way, and the ending felt a little false and rushed. I've become a huge fan of Woodrell's country noir; Tomato Red didn't quite match some of his other works, but its still a fine, entertaining read.
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Format: Paperback
To me, this read like a Tom Waits song working to a John Lee Hooker beat. Really, you can almost tap your feet to Woodrell's prose and the whole thing pulsates with lines of buttoned-up simile worthy of Chandler. I loved the ending. Just when looks like it's going to slip down a lazy and unlikely John Grisham (zzzz) route, it is yanked back to the prosaic and the likely - pure genius. One of the best and most underrated writers working today.
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