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Tomato Red

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3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,344 Ratings  ·  277 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
Sep 14, 2016 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grit-lit
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
Sep 07, 2013 Nataliya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
“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 whe
...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
Lawyer
Nov 01, 2012 Lawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer 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
Claudia
Feb 12, 2016 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 Sterne.
Wem Winter`s Bone` gefallen hat, wird auch "Tomatenrot" lieben.

"Daniel Woodrell erzählt von einer jungen Frau, die auf ein besseres Leben hofft und ausbrechen will aus ihrer Welt. Nur gehen die Geschichten in dieser Welt selten gut aus."

Sammy, ein vom Leben gebeutelter Junge, trifft bei einem Einbruch in eine Villa auf zwei ebenso planlose Jugendliche. Die 19-jährige Jamalee (genannt tomatenrot) mit ihren kurzen, roten Haaren und ihren 17-jährigen Bruder, den bildschönen Jason. Endlic
...more
Anthony Vacca
May 08, 2015 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poet Laureate of the Ozarks Daniel Woodrell's sixth novel Tomato Red is a slow-burning noir about the have-nots hating the haves--and with good reason. Told in the peculiar vernacular of Sammy Barlach, the novel relates the attempts of a pair of pretty but poor siblings who want nothing more than to get out of the shithole that is their hometown, West Table, Missouri. And lucky Sammy happens to be the itinerant loser that the ketchup-haired, redneck femme fatale Jamalee Merridew - the brains of ...more
Tfitoby
Oct 23, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night, lit
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
Apr 25, 2011 RandomAnthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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
Doug H
Jul 17, 2016 Doug H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

At first, I didn't like this at all. I kept groaning at the bad grammar and inconsistent tense and I had a vision of Miss Crabtree from The Little Rascals rolling in her grave. Then, sort of like Barack Obama and his position on gay marriage, my feelings about this book slowly-then-quickly evolved. Praise Evolution!

My feelings changed when I finally realized that the poor grammar and odd tense shifts as well as the disorienting style (especially in the beginning) are intentional. Doh! After all
...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 28, 2014 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Brian
Sep 05, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Laura
Aug 02, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shaun
Dec 06, 2014 Shaun rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
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
Kwoomac
Jul 14, 2011 Kwoomac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, dark
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
Kirk Smith
Jul 13, 2014 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Doug
Mar 12, 2011 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ed [Redacted]
Jun 06, 2012 Ed [Redacted] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Josh
Mar 11, 2012 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reread, read_2012
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
Kathryn
Oct 04, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary D
Aug 03, 2016 Mary D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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."

Squish, splat this "tomatoe" back to the Ozarks!! This was my initial reaction to the longest, jumbled and muddled opening sentence I have ever read. But, I love fresh homegrown tomatoes. So I kept reading on and I am happy I did. Daniel Woodrell’s Tomatoe Red is a country noir, told from the eyes o
...more
Perry
May 30, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She Can't Help But That She was Born Among they's Po' White Trash

Daniel Woodrell has pegged lower class whites, aka rednecks or "Poor White Trash," and their character, vel non, the best I've read. Be these lowlifes in the South or in Southie, the same general senses, smell, sound, sight and feel apply, and Woodrell has the goods to show you.

As in Winter's Bone, the female lead, whose hair here is dyed tomato red, has an integrity and some sense of decorum about her, as well as hopes and wants
...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
Debbi Mack
Mar 07, 2016 Debbi Mack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-reads
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
Oct 14, 2014 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 26, 2013 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Melissa
No one reads Woodrell to be uplifted, do they? Poor Sammy just wants to find a bunch that'll have him, so he picks the Merridews; Jason, Jamalee, and their mom Bev. They're quite a nice tight bunch & they get along well, too, until (view spoiler) Sammy lashes out in a horrible way that leads to the best line ever written for the afterm ...more
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65135
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.” 10 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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