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Give Us a Kiss

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,133 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
My imagination is always skulking about in a wrong place. And now Doyle Redmond, a thirty-five-year-old nowhere writer, has crossed the line between imagination and real, live trouble. On the lam is his soon-to-be-ex-wife's Volvo, he's running a family errand back in his boyhood home of West Table, Missouri -- the bloody heart of the red-dirt Ozarks. The law wants his big ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Pocket Books (first published February 2nd 1996)
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Rating details
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Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
End of the year book report time.

While crowds of people pack themselves into Times Square a couple of miles due west from me I'll give some thoughts on this particular book.

I expected to love this. After Karen's glowing review of Winter's Bone. Instead of being blown away by this book I was just kind of eh about it. I just realized I only gave this three stars while giving the last couple of Crumley books I read four stars. I liked this about as much as the Crumley novels though, but I don't fe
Kirk Smith
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Woodrell writes some of the most X-treme stories! He pleases me in the way only a Harry Crews or a Larry Brown might. And best of all he knows his sh*t. Nothing worse than Ivy League authors phony details about weapons or drugs or sex in lesser books. I've seen those flaws a thousand times by others, but never by Woodrell!! This entertained so well, I read it in one day!
William Thomas
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
I've made it extremely clear over the years that I love love love plain speech in first-person narratives and dialogue. I love regional speech, vernacular, local color. It makes the writing so much more meaningful, so much more real and true. So I thought I was going to find another master of that style, like Joe R Lansdale, in Daniel Woodrell. Unfortunately, I wasn't all that smitten by what turned out to be a pretty self-indulgent love letter to himself.

This probably shouldn't have been the f
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-noir
I read Give Us a Kiss maybe four, five years ago and never got around to a review. A few weeks back I listened to the audiobook version on ten hour drives back and forth from Wisconsin to western New York. I'm glad I did. While I struggled with the narrator's vocalization of female characters (he sounded like a heterosexual guy pretending to be a drag queen), this novel was perfect road trip fodder.

In Give Us a Kiss Woodrell grabs cliches and shakes the living shit out of them. He owns the Ozar
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ugh, Daniel Woodrell, what the hell have you been smoking? Up until now, I've adored everything of his I've read but found this amateurish. Granted, I only got about 40% in when he launched into what read like an excerpt from Playboy magazine. I'm fine with literary liaisons, really, and the foul scenes in "A Feast of Snakes" that had many people closing the book were actually okay by me - yes, I winced and squinched while reading them, but they served a purpose in showing how sad and desperate ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
My dear pal Al just sent me this book, and I read it from cover to cover in a single day. It's a quick, easy read--really short chapters help create a quick pace, and also add to the tension and suspense. The novel follows a writer, Doyle, on his journey back home to the Ozarks. He's been sent to find his brother, who's on the lam, and he's driving a car that has technically been stolen. So trouble quickly ensues. The book is narrated in the first person, and I absolutely love the narrative voic ...more
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read. This is the first book I've read by Woodrell, but I'm definitely going to run out and find a few more. He stakes claim to the Ozarks with force and in my mind, when it comes to crime fiction, he now owns them.

While I enjoy crime novels set in cities, it is a rare treat to read a novel set in a rural setting that is both authentic and well-written. A novel that doesn't slum, but embraces the inhabitants of the small town.

This book made me almost glad that I caught a head cold, as it
Joan Colby
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DanielWoodrell is a hell of a writer. I came across his work when the film “Winter’s Bone” was released and he was identified as the author of the book on which it is based. E. Annie Proulx blurbed on this earlier book, describing Woodrell as a “Ladystinger of a writer”. A ladystinger as his readers will discover is a 32 revolver. In “Give Me A Kiss” the protagonist Doyle seems semi-autobiographical; an Ozark boy who attained a college education and has become a published but largely unread writ ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: woodrell
this will be the...5th or 6th from woodrell for

begins w/a quote from marilyn monroe: all we demanded was our right to twinkle.

and before that, 'this novel is dedicated to three ladies whose support made it happen" marian wood, ellen levine, and deborah sweet

"and to the memory of my father robert lee woodrell"

and then there/s this from his jazzy eulogy
and he saieth, "let the trumpets and the saxophones swing, man, swing!"

and grandfather pedro (peed-drow) daily "now, if a fella only k
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1996, Give us a Kiss was Daniel Woodrell's fifth novel, and his first (I believe) to take place in and around the Missouri Ozarks. Like Tomato Red, the first person voice really drives this loosely semi-autobiographical novel. The narrator, Doyle, is a writer (whose life and past resembles that of Woodrell) who has written a few crime novels and has come back from living in California. His parents, who live in Kansas City but are from the fictional town of West Plain, Missouri (a st ...more
May 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed Winter's Bone (see review here), that I set out to read another Woodrell forthwith. In Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir, Doyle Redmond, a published but unknown author, leaves California in a Volvo stolen from his unfaithful wife, to return to his native Missouri. He sees his parents who dispatch him to find his brother, Smoke, and to convince him to turn himself in on outstanding arrest warrants in Kansas City. Doyle finds Smoke deep in the woods near their hometown of West Table, in ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Daniel Woodrell's writing! His "hillbillies behaving badly" stories really strike a cord with me. Woodrell loves the Ozarks, "Ozark mountains seem to hunker instead of tower, and they are plenty rugged but without much of the majestic left in them". His characters are hard living, hard drinking, tough and independent. They don't have much use for rules or the law. But family is everything. If you are kin you can always rely on family to help you out. And as Doyle, the university educated ...more
ABC Group
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first exposure to Woodrell was Tomato Red, which quite possibly has the best opening paragraph to any book I've ever read. This set the tone for my expectations with Woodrll and Give Us a Kiss is written along those same lines, but is certain a better overall read.

Set in the Ozarks, Doyle Redmond goes home to see his folks and then is sent on a task to find his brother, a dope growing local criminal with an affinity for danger and loose women. Doyle is in the middle of a divorce and trying to
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given what I know (not a lot) and what I think I know, this story reads like it's filled with factionalized versions of some of Woodrell's life experiences. Doyle Redmond, a crime writer, returns to the Ozarks, talked into helping with a pot crop, kills a member of a family long the enemy of the Redmonds, and falls in love with the teenage daughter of his brothers girlfriend.
Written as a kind of wild a wooly tall tale told to drunken friends it's hard to take seriously. It has one of the most
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful hillbilly story, that takes place in the lower Ozarks, is Missouri. You have drugs, various forms of senseless as well as valid violence. White trash women, excessive drinking, and mild sex. What more could you want in a book?
The story is about Doyle, whose marriage has fallen apart in California, so he steals his wife's car and heads back to where he grew up. His parents ask him to find his older brother Smoke, and to try and convince Smoke to turn himself in, as he is a wanted man.
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
This reminded me of Barry Gifford novels where the plot’s almost secondary to the quirky characters and their even quirkier anecdotes. These little tales kept interrupting the story in an A.D.D. mode, like the writer had trouble focusing on his story. “Give Us A Kiss” is a sort of modern Hatfields versus McCoys tale about kinfolk feudin’ over a mighty powerful merrywanna crop. I found the idea of folks killing each other over weed ridiculous until I read in the paper that “medical” marijuana sho ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Then the screen door slammed, and out came this vision of hillbillyette beauty. She held a pistol in her hand in a fairly neighborly and utterly charming fashion. Her long hair was a perfect champagne blond, and she had cut-off jeans on and a t-shirt that said COUNTRY BEAVER AND THE RHYTHM DRIFTERS. Sunglasses with a white frame hid her eyes. Her red cowgirl boots went up her bare legs like flame licks from hell.”

“Then I sighted in on the Dolly and emptied the ladystinger into his back, li'l
Phil Overeem
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every Missourian ought to be required to read a Woodrell. I've read most of his "Ozarks noir" novels and never been let down; it's hard to pick the best. I will say that this one, with all of the usual elements (a detailed picture of the West Plains area, dialogue a Missourian will recognize, a grappling with adulthood and family heritage, total command of the narrative), is the funniest and pithiest. If you don't know who Woodrell is, fix that, but--he wrote WINTER'S BONE. Not the best of the l ...more
Katy Brandes
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: country-noir
Another great country noir by Woodrell. He builds the suspense and has you rooting for the characters whether you like them or not. Although his depiction of the Ozarks shows only a portion of it, that is a seedy underside of the population a reader hopes to only ever experience on the page. Woodrell's rich descriptions capture a colorful cultural history here, some of which is still lived in this region. You can experience the indulgence and danger vicariously though his wild tales, as he does ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The most autobiographical novel yet of Woodrell, almost like Doyle is he. The story moves quickly and gets the Ozark mentality and history down to the language and the mindset of the characters. The old grandpa is great. This book has a lot of sex, drug use and violence, but the dialogue is sharp and the hardboiled characters a bit like true crime. Not the best Woodrell, but he's better than most on his worst day. Woth reading.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-comedy, noir
A lighter more humorous book from Woodrell. This ends with a comic touch rather than tragic. I think this suffers in comparison Death of Sweet Mister and Woe to Live On (which are also quite funny) though the construction is just as good. But you can’t put up that much darkness every time so here is to writing with nuance and variety. A tale of family and criminality and I think the main character is Woodrell poking a little fun at himself.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel just grabbed me by the collar and pulled me right into it. Although based on Missourians, it still seemed oddly familiar, the people and situations were so similar to people I knew in Central Texas.

B. R. Reed
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I pretty much read this book and Woodrell's The Death of Sweet Mister back to back. Give Us a Kiss was so much less of a downer and really quite amusing. I guess Woodrell was trying to "one-up" his Missouri hillbillies vs their counterparts in KY and TN. The sorry takes place in Howl Co. in southern Missouri (Woodrell's home turf). In this short novel the reader will be exposed to Lucky Strikes, Johnny Walker Red (ugh), Stag Beer, the Git 'N Quick, cow chip golf, Country Beaver and the Rythmn Dr ...more
Tasha Robinson
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is more a 3.5 book. I've been reading through Daniel Woodrell's books this year, since I've had a pile of them on my shelf since shortly after Winter's Bone became a movie and his back library was published in a series of new, matching editions. I tend to find his stories a little wandering and aimless (apart from Winter's Bone itself, which ends perfectly), but you just can't beat the language — the way his voices vary from book to book, and the way they fit whatever narrative and setting ...more
Dave N
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir
Just about everything about this novel feels two-dimensional. The characters are flat and uninteresting. The story never strays from the predictable. (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Daniel Woodrell. I have read several of his books and this is one of his best. Woodrell's dialogue is tight. At his best, each word of every sentence packs a punch. If you are not familiar with Daniel Woodrell, you need to read the first sentence in "Tomato Red". "Give Us A Kiss" is a Southern Noir novel set in the early 80's in the Ozarks. What is fun about it is that the anti-hero Doyle is returning home after getting a masters in creative writing from Univ. of Iowa, four publis ...more
Mary Schumann
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was amusing. I think the thing I loved most was his language- I read a lot. I’ve never felt my vocabulary was lacking but I took notes of words that I had never read or was unfamiliar with -8! 8 new words. I love that!
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I keep somehow supposing wrongly that Daniel Woodrell once wrote a book as good as the very good Winter's Bone. His earlier books are extremely corny but entertaining. They're like Snuffy Smith spliced with softcore porn and Burt Reynolds movies.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Very entertaining, but insubstantial.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a mix of intellectualism and what might be going on in the wilds of deep south America- pure genius - describing your two timing wife as an aspiring poet "who wants to be revered and lusted after like a mixture of Carolyn Forché, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Gypsy Rose Lee."
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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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“When I was younger and hard-hearted, with hot, hostile artistic ambitions I yearned to charge at the aloof, faceless “thems” of our world until they said Uncle, I believed the scariest words ever spoken to be “The apple never falls far from the tree.” That whole concept inspired clinging fears in the wee hours, and a halting miserable shyness in the presence of those who seemed to be the anointed. If I fell not far from the tree, was I then fated to be, not, say, a college prof of English, but inmate 2679785? A parolee who spends seventeen years on the night shift with Custodial Services at KU Med Center in K.C., instead of a Prize-Winning Novelist with a saltbox on the Cape? An unwholesome artsy freak, and not an esteemed citizen whose voting privileges have never been revoked? I went through those pitiful, hangdog years being ashamed of my roots and origins, referring to home as “our place in the country,” and to my father as a “self-made man.” I hung my head and eenie-meenie-minie-moed when confronted at dinner tables by too many forks. I tried to give the impression that slapping an uppity snotnose silly was not the sort of act contained in my portfolio. It” 0 likes
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