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Publisher's Summary

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 hills and hollows of the Ozarks, that is the most dangerous and courageous thing a man could be.

Enter Sammy Barlach, a loser ex-con passing through a tired nowhere on the way to a fresher nowhere. Jamalee thinks Sammy is just the kind of muscle she and Jason need.

©2012 Daniel Woodrell (P)2012 Hachette

What listeners say about Tomato Red

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great addicting read.

Any additional comments?

When I began reading this book, I was transported to another place, which is what happened with the previous Daniel Woodrell novel I'd read. The location of this book is hot and stifling and miserable. The characters are flawed and interesting. The main character in particularly consistent in this way, which drives the plot. He is also the narrator of the story so you become carried away with his circumstances right along with him. Very quickly there I was, all ready to sit on a back porch in 90 degree heat with dirty jeans and my shirt off my back, trying to figure out my fate while bumming off a beer from somebody, when it did occur to me that I am actually a woman in very cool climate who has no back porch and does not drink beer and must keep her shirt on. Such is the magic of this novel.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful narration!

What made the experience of listening to Tomato Red the most enjoyable?

The narrator was the highlight of this story. His acting abilities were clear (on top of his enjoyable voice). He was very skilled at doing female voices, which I find that many male narrators struggle to do well.

I liked that the book is fairly short compared to many fiction novels out there today.

Which character – as performed by Brian Troxell – was your favorite?

Sammy

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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West Table, MO

Welcome to West Table, MO. Not to be confused with West Plains, MO. If you are from West Plains, as I am, it is easy enough to recognize many familiar sights. It is a thinly veiled attempt to conceal the source of the wealth of colorful characters in this novel. If you look it up on the map, it is near Dora (Dorda in the books) and is 17 miles from the Arkansas line. The only thing that has me stumped is Venus Hollow. I don't know if that is Koshkonong or Cooterville.

The book itself drew me in with the first rambling paragraph. I was hooked on not only the very vivid characters, but also the amazing way that Woodrell is able to turn a phrase and flip it from something mundane into a beautiful work of prose.

My only disappointment with this novel was the way one of his characters met their end. I guess I was not expecting this to be a murder mystery.

Having said all of that, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

2 people found this helpful

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Woodrell is a word alchemist

My mind cannot comprehend how this man plays with words. He’s a master. He combines words, feelings and tones in a way I’ve never experienced before.

This is my third Woodrell book- winters Bone and Death of Sweet Mister were my first two.

His books are heartbreaking. They cast a spotlight on the forgotten faces of society— the trailer park trash, the crank heads, the families at the mercy of the crank heads. He pulls no punches. His stories are not happy tales. But good god are the beautiful.

Onto bayou trilogy.

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Zero Hour Nine A.M.

I am freaking out because ever since I got this dad-blasted Doctorate of Divinity, on occasion someone actually asks me to perform a wedding. Thank God I haven't been asked to do a funeral yet. I don't think would be able to "go easy" as one of my clients says every time we pass a cop. So I thought I'd write a few book reviews to ease the sheer, overwhelming, unbelievably terrifying panic. This book was so good that I was honestly mad when it ended. Two of the best pieces of prose I ever laid eyes on were in this book and one mentioned a town I hate to this day because of the time they locked me up for a piece. "It shined like a Shreveport pimp's favorite teeth." And "They're the kind of people you'd like to meet sometime and leave in the trunk of a car at the airport." You just don't come by that kind of raw honesty in the real world.

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Scary accurate depiction of south east Missouri

Where does Tomato Red rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

top ten for sure and maybe top five.

What did you like best about this story?

The familiar language of the area where I live as well as the characters and geography. The first time I read Tomato Red I was delighted to see the words and phrases that I've heard and spoken my whole life for the first time in print. Having read hundreds of books throughout my life Daniel Woodrell is the first author I've read to speak the language of my people and I love it.

What about Brian Troxell’s performance did you like?

He did a very good job overall. Having a person from Southeast Missouri read the book would be the only way it could have been better maybe. I'm available for any future books based in SE MO if anyone is reading this.

Who was the most memorable character of Tomato Red and why?

For me it's Sammy, his familiarity to myself and others I know, sadly.

Any additional comments?

I can't get enough of Woodrell's books when he writes about the Ozarks in particular.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Well written but so nihilistic

This is classic Daniel Woodrell. Hard scrabble characters unfortunately born in hard scrabble towns with futures as black and un promising as a railroad tunnel. His spare narrative evokes the emptiness of the lives and landscape. The characters are just too unique and witty to spring from this wilderness.

The main character is a bit too wise with self knowledge to play at this game, though. And the internal monologue indicates thrusts upon the reader a view class and social consciousness that is somewhat pedantic and nihilistic.

So the setting is great, the characters aren't as rounded and vigorous as some of his other novels, like Winters Bone.