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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  14 reviews
TATTOO continues the earthy, honst, and ultimately triumphant story begun by Earl Thompson in A Garden of Sand. It is an epic account of a generation--America in the 1940s.
Paperback, 688 pages
Published January 21st 1993 by Carroll & Graf (first published January 1st 1974)
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Leaving behind his crumpled mother with competing feelings of disgust and longing for her glory days of radiant, knee-weakening red hair and run-free hose, Jack flees his taboo-transgressing penury in order to inveigle his way into the United States Navy and swap the dust and grime of urban-hopping for that of the salt and spray of chasing islands. The hardships and hard knocks, con jobs and concupiscence, back-slapping and backhanding, grifts and griefs, sad sacks and sack-hopping of A Garden o ...more
A true dime store novel -- and I mean that in the best possible way. No pretentiousness here.

One of those wonderfully lurid bits of pulp that could only be pounded out by some guy chain smoking Chesterfields, while swigging from a fifth of scotch next to the old Remington; chock full of gritty violence and hot 'n' steamy sex. Makes ya nostalgic for a time when the public devoured books like this, rather than vampire novels, or touchy-feely chick lit.
Fred Lehman
Great reading. One of the best I've ever read. It's so easy to follow, and relate to the main character. Interesting to the point of picking it up first thing in the morning.
Craig Kelly
Earl Thompson is a great writer.
just finished w/a garden of sand...jacky, 14 in may in that one, determined to join the marines, on his way back to this one.... here at the 186 page mark and the war is over.

this one starts out w/this line:
that germany had surrendered smacked of yet another damn thing too keep the boy from glory.

and i'm reminded of john knowles's story, a separate peace.

about the only thing the two stories might have in common is that boys want to go to war, want to be men, want to establ
Started this morning and just finished. This book could be the 'you' version of Edward Fortyhands. Incredibly well-written and moving, with many sections about love and loss and how to fuck it all up that cut you deep.
Paul B.
The entire book is apparently an excuse for the protagonist to bed as many ladies of the night as possible. Repeated failures and disappointments make for a supremely depressing and frustrating novel, which I guess is what Thompson was going for here. The coming-of-age aspect if engaging, and it is compelling to watch this guy try to grapple with a broken world in a narration that is gritty, graphic and no-holds-barred. Nonetheless, despite a few rather sublime parts this novel is a grungy traip ...more
D.H. Benson
I first read this book at age 18. It was unlike any book I had read. It was explicit, graphic and shocking. I couldn't put it down. Earl Thompson wrote in a frank manner about subjects and topics that people did not want to acknowledge. The cast of characters is rich, varied and bizarre. The book is a journey in time from Wichita, Kansas to China after World War II to the Korean War.
Robert C.
I read this book in 1977, when I was about 19 or so. In the Navy, and if I remember right, alot of time on my hands. It was a thick book,(paperback) and I remember it taking quite awhile to get through it. 35 years later and I can still recall some of the things I read. It made a profound impact on my life at the time.
This book just blew me away with its stripped-to-the-bone un-nostalgic look at a young man's growing up from Depression poverty and seeking refuge in the Navy, a little too late for war but ready for life. The sex and realism really come through - nothing glossed over here.
Lengthy story about a young boy and his dysfunctional family. Jack joins the navy at the end of WWII to try to escape his horrible upbringing. One sordid adventure after another takes Jack through disappointment and disillusion with life. Well written but very graphic.
Brad Iles
The last of my collection of 20c flea-market books. It would have had more impact if it was a lot shorter, a lot of it was quite repetitive.
read when I was 14. quite lurid and made an impression
Alex Webb
Very long but pretty good
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Earl Thompson ( May 24, 1931 – November 9, 1978 ) was a leading American writer of naturalist prose. Nominated for the National Book Award for A Garden of Sand and chosen by the Book of the Month Club for Tattoo, Thompson died suddenly at the peak of his success, having published just three novels—the fourth The Devil to Pay, was published posthumously.
More about Earl Thompson...
A Garden of Sand Caldo Largo The Devil to Pay Garden of Sand The Last of the Con-Men

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