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Tomato Red: A Novel Paperback – April 24, 2012
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sammy meets Jamalee and Jason Merridew while very unsuccessfully robbing a mansion. So far, the only thing he's managed to pilfer is a half-gallon of vodka, which he decides to drink then and there. Jamalee is a half-pint girl with hair the color "only a vegetable should have" and brother Jason is "the most beautiful boy in the Ozarks." Jamalee wants to get out of West Table, MO, and just maybe Sammy can help her. Sammy wants love or "any bunch that will have me." In Venus Holler they meet mother Sandra, a laid back, easy going, southern-to-her-fingertips whore.
Their antics are so funny, their energies and coping mechanisms so off the wall wild, I just gave in to helpless laughter. And yet, there is a sense of something preordained, sad and tragic about their existence. In ways both large and small, they are stripped of their dignity over and over again by the way they are perceived by society. "Society" ain't much in West Table, but it knows for a fact it's a world away from the likes of Sammy, Jamalee and Jason.
As the author shapes the rhythmic cadence of Sammy's story, the future is glimpsed and it's bad. It's been a long time since I have grown so fond of a character in a book. He has all the fascination of a train wreck waiting to happen. And then you shed a tear and knew it had to be.
Tomato Red is narrated by Sammy Barlach who as the boojk opens is employed as a labourer in a dog food factory and has his foreman on his back the whole time . On a drunken Friday payday ,drinking with bar room buddies and fuelled by substances both illicit and alcoholic ,not to mention a heady dose of sexual bravado he , on a dare breaks into the home of an absent wealthy family and promptly passes out.He is awoken by Jamalee--aka Tomato Red for her distinctively dyed hair and her androgynous beautiful brother Jason They are not as he assumes and they pretend wealthy inhabitants of the home but trailer park inhabitants from the most despised part of their backwater town Venus Hollow.They flee when police arrive and Sammy is taken in by the pair and their mother Bev who is unashamedly a hooker and whose calm stoic dignity is a commanding presence in the book
Jamalee dreams of escape and views Jason -poor sexually confused Jason whose hard road is to be gay in a world where this is not an easy furrow to plough.Jason as magnet for sexual blackmail is the plan and Sammy the protector.In a heartbreaking but strangely funny scene she rehearses Sammy and Jason in good manners using an antedeluvian etiquette book role playing with plastic cups instead of cut glass.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With endless descriptions like, "Her dress was a size low or so and she got that white fabric slamming from side to side like it was a sack she'd trapped a poodle in" it's... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tom Field
OMFG. Started reading when I couldn't get back to sleep at about 3 AM, then I couldn't get back to sleep until I finished it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by big flavors, small kitchen
Superb job of bringing the Ozarks' grim and demeaning way of life to the page. Disturbing and unforgettable.Published 5 months ago by wtab7
Absolutely, positively one of the best books I've ever read. True, gritty, wonderful characters. A favorite of all time.Published 8 months ago by Rosemadder
This is my favorite Daniel Woodrell novel. I love it for the characters and you will never predict the ending. I appreciate art that mimics life and is unpredictable.Published 12 months ago by Matt W.