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Tomato Red

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,842 ratings  ·  241 reviews
In the Ozarks, what you are is where you are born. If you're born in Venus Holler, you're not much. For Jamalee Merridew, her hair tomato red with rage and ambition, Venus Holler just won't cut it. Jamalee sees her brother Jason, blessed with drop-dead gorgeous looks and the local object of female obsession, as her ticket out of town. But Jason may just be gay, and in the ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Back Bay Books (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
tomato red is an earlier book by daniel woodrell, and occasionally this becomes apparent. there are moments where it gets a little overwritten even for me, the lover of melodrama and the densely-packed sentence.

is it as good as winter's bone??

no.

but it's like saying "is megan fox as hot as angelina jolie, or is she some kind of cheaper, off-brand, less genuinely badass version??" does it matter?? is anyone kicking either of these ladies out of bed?? nope.

woodrell is never gonna get kicked out
...more
Nataliya
“I had been born shoved to the margins of the world, sure, but I had volunteered for the pits.”
Daniel Woodrell's Tomato Red is lighthearted and wickedly funny - until it abruptly isn't, and you are in vain trying to recover from the unexpected whiplash from the change in direction and tone, and trying to figure out when exactly this black comedy became tragedy - and has it been tragedy all along but you just haven't noticed in time??? - and rereading the last few pages trying to figure out when
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oh yeah, dude. Yes. I loved this little beast. I understand that Winter's Bone is Woodrell's show dog, but this shit is off the hook, which come to think of it is a terribly inappropriate pun that only people who have read this book already will understand, and I apologize for that and swear it was an accident considering I in no way think even fictional Hate Crimes are funny, but still. Damn. This book. This book is good.

At very first, it reads a lot like Dylan's Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie
...more
Mike
Nov 01, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Read as a result of "Winter's Bone"
Tomato Red: Daniel Woodrell's Tale of Leaving Home

Welcome to West Table, Missouri. Meet Sammy Barlach who's just hired on down at the dog food factory. It's Friday night. The Tequila and Meth have got Sammy flying, impressing new friends down at the bar. Wanting to fit in with the new gang, when one suggests Sammy burgle one of the town mansions, Sammy's up for it. But he hears the laughter of his new buddies and the roar of their pickup recede in the distance when they drop him off at his next
...more
Tfitoby
It's been labelled Country Noir but in reality Daniel Woodrell writes mouth watering literature in a noir mileau with a touch of the Thompson/Cain existentialism.

Set in a small Ozark town, a setting familiar to you if you've already discovered the wonder that is Daniel Woodrell, Tomato Red is the story of Sammy, Bev, Jam and Jay; how they come together and how they dissipate, how they live and how they dream.

Woodrell sets the scene with great effect from the off, filling your mind with descripti
...more
RandomAnthony
Holy Bejesus, Tomato Red is good.

Daniel Woodrell, the guy who wrote Winter's Bone, is moving up my “favorite writer” charts. I've read two of his books and hope he's published 100 more. I'm salivating at the prospect.

Tomato Red reads like Jim Thompson in the Ozarks but with Woodrell's superhuman tag-team of spellbinding language and cutting psychological insight. The story centers on Sammy Barlach, a well-intentioned loser who meets Jam and Jason Merridew while sleeping off a bender in a house
...more
James Thane
Mar 29, 2011 James Thane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves noir
Shelves: crime-fiction
Tomato Red has one of the best--and one of the longest--opening lines you'll ever read, and it sets the stage for a very good book that might best be categorized as Hillbilly Noir.

Sammy Barlach, the narrator and main protagonist, is new to West Table, Missouri, and to his job at the dog food factory. Seeking company on a Friday night after work, he falls in with a "coed circle of bums" who are well supplied with tequila and crank. You know that from this point on interesting things are going to
...more
Connie
"You're no angel, you know how this stuff comes to happen: Friday is payday and it's been a gray day sogged by a slow ugly rain and you seek company in your gloom, and since you're fresh to West Table, Mo., and a new hand at the dog-food factory, your choices for company are narrow but you find some finally in a trailer court on East Main...." Sammy Barlach, a loser ex-con who had a hard start in life, is hoping to find a place where he belongs when he moves to the rural Missouri town. He gets t ...more
Diane Barnes
So, you were born trash, raised as trash, and everyone in town considers you trash. But you're smarter than that, you read books on etiquette, make plans to escape, use your brother's beauty as an escape route, use a loser who just needs a place to belong, distance yourself from your prostitute mother, and still nothing seems to work. Daniel Woodrell makes this a wondrous and heartbreaking journey. Jamalee is one of a kind, and you won't easily forget her.
Brian
Unreal.

Just finished reading this aloud to my wife - we are both sitting here stunned by the book, especially the ending.

GritLit hardcore. More thoughts after I wipe the tears from my cheeks and drink a 40.
Shaun
2.5 stars

Aaaah...so what to say about this book.

Well, it's probably good for what it is, a Kurt Vonnegut meets Erskine Caldwell with maybe a tincy-wincy echo of Raymond Chandler. The writing is competent, and there's a point. It's just not a style of writing that appeals to me...in fact, I find it a little annoying, but understand it's a personal preference kind of thing more than a reflection of the writer's talent.

I debated between two and three stars, but ultimately decided on two because af
...more
Doug
The major mode of Tomato Red is impotence. Not so much the inability to change, but the inability to bring about what you want and need. There are flavors of cognitive dissonance here: of little country girls thinking they are big city, of eternal outsiders thinking they can find a place, of quiet gay men thinking there is a place for them in backwoods anywhere. Mostly, though, there is impotence. Inability. Big dreams, hopes. People better than where they were cast, at least in their mind's eye ...more
Kwoomac
Wow, I'm not sure how he did this, but Woodrell was able to create characters in unlikable circumstances, but still have them be likable. The cast includes Sammy,a 24 year old drifter, who's been in and out of jail. Bev, the hooker and mother of two teens, who chooses not to protect her kids from the less savory details of her life. Jamalee, 18 year old daughter, who hates her mother a little too much and loves her brother a little too much. And Jason,17 year old beautiful boy, who's willing to ...more
El
I was excited to read a book written by someone from Missouri. I lived in Missouri for... an annoyingly long time, and I hated the majority of that time. But I'm sure some good stuff came out of the state - if one of those things can be a good author, that's great. So I keep my eyes peeled.

I heard a lot about Winter's Bone, and something about a movie based on it. A friend asked for the book last Christmas and I had no idea what she was talking about at that time because I sometimes live under a
...more
Laura
When will I ever learn? Woodrell pulls you in from the beginning. You fall in love with each of these lost characters and then your heart just breaks ever so slowly. You keep thinking this southern lit will be different. These lost souls will break the cycle. There's a small chance Jamalee might make it....I doubt it. Even the poor dog can't break the cycle....the park scene comes to mind. I can't wait to read more of Woodrell's newer stuff.
Josh
I already feel bad writing this review. This is a book I should "like" based on the general genre, my admiration of the author, and the impact it had on other readers I greatly respect. Having previously returned it twice to the library after not being able to get it started within my allotted time, I was tickled it was selected as a monthly group read within the group "On the Southern Literary Trail"- surely the cue that it was meant to be for me to finally get it under my belt.

Perfect setup...
...more
[Redacted]
Another great book from Mr. Woodrell, This guy is an excellent writer. In this particular book we meet Sammy; our POV character and a down and out redneck criminal; Jamalee, a white trash girl who wants to make a better life for herself and her brother; Jason, the aforementioned brother who is devastatingly beautiful and confusedly gay; and Bev, the mother of Jam and Jason, and who pays her bills through prostitution. All characters are full and well fleshed out. The dialog is excellent and the ...more
Kathryn
Tomato Red doesn't stand for what you probably think it stands for...if you've even thought about it at all. I won't spoil it for you, so you don't have to worry. It wasn't at all what I thought it might be. The only thing I will tell you, it's not about tomatoes...

It was both discovered and recommended to me, and I have to say, I'm really glad. I discovered Daniel Woodrell because of his amazing book Winter's Bone", but also someone told me to pick up Tomato Red. For anyone who is wondering, To
...more
Kirk Smith
This is my second book by Woodrell and he has rapidly climbed my list of favorites. It's the one-liners, the never-too-anxious pacing, the tone, the perfect-pitch, and as if that's not enough, he laces it with humor. I am now a Fan.-- The story has many threads; class distinction between haves and have-nots, unrequited love, and achieving a sense of "belonging".-- There are loads of quotes in this little gem, I'll mention a few and it's just the tip of the iceberg. From the foreword, and a good ...more
William Thomas
I grew up around a whole heap of hillbilly boys straight out of the Tennessee hills. Grandmama picked cotton near her whole life. Grandpa died with fingers so gnarled from arthritis after pushing a plow for 50 years that he had to have his youngest boy hold roll and hold his cigarettes for him. My dad, well, he wasn't the hard-working type an let out for Las Vegas at age 17 and bounced from city to city his whole life. Always wound right back there in Ripley, TN though. Needed to be around his p ...more
Josh
Delusions of grandeur, broken hopes and faded dreams populate this pocket marked landscape where a person’s status is symbolised by their street address and history accounts for their future.

‘Tomato Red’ is a tale of an unconventional grafter who finds heart by way of a homely trailer park family that encapsulate all the stigma tied to the white trailer park trash label they so gladly wear like a badge of honour. All that is, except for Jamalee, a whore’s daughter and sister to an overtly hands
...more
Debbi Mack
If you're of a mind to read a crime fiction novel that takes you off the beaten path (setting-wise and literary-wise), with prose that seems to sing to you with a rhythm all its own, and even features an opening sentence a mind-blowing 250 words long, you might take joy in reading TOMATO RED by Daniel Woodrell.

The story opens with Sammy, a drifter and criminal of the two-bit sort, breaking and entering a fancy house in (of all places) West Table, Mo. Sammy, who's coming down off a lost weekend o
...more
Sara
I read this 2 years ago and I was surprised to find I didn't review it here.

This book started so well. I was so intrigued. A house robber knocked out, waking up to two creepy teenagers with a plan. . . .I thought I knew where this was going.

Well, I didn't.

It basically didn't really go anywhere. . .well, not anywhere good.

I read through to the end and it was sad. So sad.

Loved the title, though. That's what intrigued me.
Andy
Trailer park noir about a drifter who befriends two hillbilly goth kids who have "plans" for him. What these plans are we never really find out, hmm. Anyway, things get pretty suspenseful but unfortuantely the story kinda spirals into nothingness. The book needed Bubbles, Randy and Mister Lahey.
Jeanette
This reminds me of a television sit. com plot, or slapstick movie of the week. It has very similar dialog and flashy characters. Fast, fast read and more interest near the end, so I stretched to give it a three. My preferred humor is far more stodgy or dry, I guess. This seems more the Honey Boo-Boo kind of laughs. Nothing wrong with it, but just not for me. Sammy and his friends are so hapless, that they seemed from the get-go far more dangerous, than funny. And not only to themselves. Stereoty ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Sammy begins his tale by telling you how he met Jamalee and Jason after crashing from a meth jag in a mansion he'd broken into the day before. Jamalee is the girl with "tomato red" hair who yearns for a place where no one knows her. Sammy accepts that their station in life is cast and believes that joy exists in the moments of a good gut-bucket blues or rockabilly song, a cool haircut, cold rootbeer and a willing woman. It's the voice which lifts this book above the mundane world of losers and o ...more
MSJ (Sarah)
Oct 13, 2014 MSJ (Sarah) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MSJ (Sarah) by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Tomato Red was my 3rd visit to Daniel Woodrell's West Table, Missouri and my favorite so far. While it does not live up to the brilliance of Winter's Bone I thought it was still an entertaining read. The book itself is small and short so the character and plot development are slim, but there were some good ideas here. The character I enjoyed most was Bev. I would have liked to read to about her and her "lifestyle". The ending reminded me of Larry Brown's Joe with (view spoiler) ...more
Charles
I like this book a lot, but its not a mystery or even crime fiction. It's loser chic. That's all right by me. It's a little bit of dirty talk, a few soliloquies, some Ozark poetic talk. Not much plot. A character driven story that swerves all over and crashes before it ends.
Yeah, being from the low or is it the kept down poor class sucks. Particularly, if your sensitive enough to realize what's being done to you and chafe at the restraints.
What I don't get about the two Woodrell books I've re
...more
Nicola Mansfield
Daniel Woodrell's Ozark novel's are masterpieces of literature. Beautifully written with language that keeps the reader spellbound. Having read a few other of his Ozark novels, I found this one not quite as good, hence the 4 star rating, but still very, very good. Tomato Red differs in that there is a sort-of happy ending, even if it is bittersweet and doesn't include everyone. It is a short book at just over 200 pages but as usual, Woodrell manages to fully flesh out the four main characters: B ...more
Keri Payton
(From my blog: Quill Café)

In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book through Book Crossing. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.

Jamalee Merridew, the girl with the tomato red hair, wants nothing more than to get out of the Ozarks with her younger – and far more beautiful – brother, Jason and away from their prostitute mother.

Enter Sammy Barlach, a drifter with no aim in life and no expectati
...more
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On the Southern L...: Tomato Red Final Impressions 10 32 Nov 05, 2014 11:03AM  
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Growing up in Missouri, seventy miles downriver from Hannibal, Mark Twain was handed to me early on, first or second grade, and captivated me for years, and forever, I reckon. Robert Louis Stevenson had his seasons with me just before my teens and I love him yet. There are too many others to mention, I suppose, but feel compelled to bring up Hemingway, James Agee, Flannery O'Connor, John McGahern, ...more
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“I think one of our cardinal fuckups is how we insist that even vicious whimsical crazy shit needs to make sense, add up, belong to a reason. We lay this pain on ourselves--there must be a reason behind this horror, there must, but I ain't adequate to findin' it, and that's my fault, so torture me some more.” 8 likes
“I had been born shoved to the margins of the world, sure, but I had volunteered for the pits.” 6 likes
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