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Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

Tomato Red (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Daniel Woodrell

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3622030,006 (3.75)55
Title:Tomato Red
Authors:Daniel Woodrell
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (1998), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell (1998)

  1. 10
    The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Another Noirish crime novel set in Appalachia.

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English (19)  Italian (1)  All (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
"There was a fella on the couch, the sort of small, skinny alcoholic redneck who probably had a cannon in his sock and an undertaker for a brother-in-law. A female slumped against him, and she was exactly the type you'd expect to find in this trailer with these fellas".

I love the way Woodrell writes. He coined the phrase "country noir" and that is exactly what it is. Such amazing writing about such dismal surroundings. He's a genius.
( )
  Juliasb | Dec 1, 2016 |
“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 of Sammy Barlach, a meth-head and drifter seeking to belong to a family and community.

The dialogue and characters are believable. The setting is rich. The first half of this book is real "meaty". There is not much of a story line. A small murder mystery plot exists and the ending seems a bit rushed. Overall its a good book. ( )
  WanderRoxyBooks | Aug 3, 2016 |
Daniel Woodrell is an author that I find very readable, his books are usually set in the Ozarks and his writing captures the flavor and styling of red neck recklessness. I did find Tomato Red to have a sad theme dealing as it does with the despair and hopelessness of being on lower end of the social scale with no escape route from the white trash world they were in but the book is nevertheless vividly and humorously written.

Sammy Barlach, the narrator and anti-hero of the book tells his story honestly and simply. During the course of a break-and-enter robbery of a vacant house, he comes into contact with the engaging sister and brother team of Jamalee, the Tomato Red of the title and her brother, Jason. Sammy is pulled into their life and before too long finds himself living with them next door to their prostitute mother, Bev. They become a weird sort of family with Sammy being rather taken with both mother and daughter.

Of course being a Woodrell novel, violence is always on the horizon and although this story becomes a tragedy, the telling of it is colorful and engaging. At times, Tomato Red is a little overwritten and melodramatic, but the author is extremely adapt at telling a story that can change from light-hearted humor to dark violence within a page. Sammy’s story is in reality a strong, violent statement on the hopelessness of poverty in America. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 14, 2016 |
Audio, another great Woodrell book ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Sammy Barlach is looking for a cross to hang himself on and he finds just the right one when he meets Tomato Red.

Tomato Red, aka Jamalee, and her brother Jason live hanging by their fingernails in a backwater town in the Ozarks. When they meet Sammy they feel like they’ve found the right fall guy/battering ram to help them get the hell out of there. Nothing is clear though as to how or from whom. Instead Woodrell paints a deeply layered picture of poverty, hopelessness and crystal clear knowledge of where those things will get them.

Sammy narrates the tale and his voice is cutting and incredibly descriptive in a jangly and unexpected way. I loved it. The writing is raw, imaginative and deft and reminded me of William Gay. I think they deal with similar themes. Gay is more gothic and Woodrell more noir, if that makes sense. This is not a book you can skim and you won’t want to despite the fairly bleak circumstances. The thing is, Sammy himself is not bleak. He takes life as he finds it and while not always doing the easy thing, he does what feels right to him and always pays the price without whining or recriminations.

Going in Sammy pretty much tells you that his tale won’t end well and there’s no reason to think he’s lying. The denouement is subtle, but treacherous and I had to go back to an earlier scene to make that final one line up because I had forgotten which thread bound them together. When it hits it's like a heavy blow that you knew would hit you eventually, but didn’t see coming. Very effective without being hyperbolic or graphic. Sad, too, but there is a slim cord of hope in the end, but I do wonder if it will hold. ( )
  Bookmarque | Oct 10, 2015 |
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Anybody possessing analytical knowledge recognizes the fact that the world is full of actions performed by people exclusively to their detriment and without perceptible advantage, although their eyes were open.

It's not all peaches and cream.
But I haven't learned that yet.

First words
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 a trailer court on East Main, and the coed circle of bums gathered there spot you a beer, then a jug of tequila starts to rotate and the rain keeps comin' down with a miserable bluesy beat and there's two girls millin' about that probably can be had but they seem to like certain things and crank is one of those certain things, and a fistful of party straws tumble from a woven handbag somebody brung, the crank gets cut into lines, and the next time you notice the time it's three or four Sunday mornin' and you ain't slept since Thursday night and one of the girl voices, the one you want most and ain't had yet though her teeth are the size of shoe-peg corn and look like maybe they'd taste sort of sour, suggests something to do, 'cause with crank you want something, anything, to do, and this cajoling voice suggests we all rob this certain house on this certain street in that rich area where folks can afford to wallow in their vices and likely have a bunch of recreational dope stashed around the mansion and goin' to waste since an article in The Scroll said the rich people whisked off to France or some such on a noteworthy vacation.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452281946, Paperback)

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 and 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 she 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 more importantly, true. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A group of petty crooks in the Ozarks organize a series of scams to get rich. One scheme is to have the hunk among them seduce, then blackmail rich women, another is to burglarize houses while the owners are away on holiday.

(summary from another edition)

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