A year before James Lee Burke released the first Dave Robicheaux novel, Woodrell introduced the genre to Cajun cop Rene Shade in Under the Bright Lights (1986; still in print from Simon & Schuster). Woodrell followed with two more Shades: Muscle for the Wing (1988) and The Ones You Do (1992). His other early novels include Woe to Live On (1987; a.k.a. Ride with the Devil), set in the last days of the Civil War; Give Us a Kiss (1996), a "country noir" novel... and then he wrote Tomato Red (1998) and The Death of Sweet Mister (2001), the two noir novels that BFP will reprint in 2009/2010, with new forewords by Megan Abbott and Dennis Lehane, respectively. Both were New York Times Notable Books, and both are considered by critics & fans of the genre to be among the best noir novels of all time. Hyperbole, yes, but please read on...
And once I announced the Woodrell reissues, I discovered that some of Woodrell's biggest fans happen to be Busted Flush Press authors, as they made known very quickly through e-mails that included many exclamation points... then through Twitter and e-mail, I learned that this acclaim was shared by many other crime writers. Below are some early comments from some of Woodrell's peers...
“There are writers who break all boundaries and break your heart with the sheer level of their art. Daniel Woodrell is not only the most truly humble writer I've encountered but one of the very few I refer to again and again to learn how true poetic writing is achieved. His on-the-surface simple style conceals a master craftsman at work. There is no writer I know I would love to devote a whole novel to just quoting from his work. There are crime writers… literary writers… and then… Daniel Woodrell. Nobody comes near his amazing genius and I very doubt anyone ever will.”—Ken Bruen, award-winning author of London Boulevard
"Reading Tomato Red -- the first Daniel Woodrell novel I came upon -- was a transformative experience. It expanded my sense of the possibilities not only of crime fiction, but of fiction itself -- of language, of storytelling. Time and again, his work just dazzles and humbles me. God bless Busted Flush for these glorious reissues. It's a service to readers everywhere, and a great gift." -- Megan Abbott, award-winning author of Bury Me Deep (and she'll write the foreword to the new edition of Tomato Red!)
"Genius is a word that gets thrown around a little too much these days, but when it comes Daniel Woodrell, it’s nearly an understatement." -- Reed Farrel Coleman, award-winning author of Innocent Monster
"I can't remember coming across a more precise evocation of innocence lost since Golding's The Lord of the Flies. With The Death of Sweet Mister, Daniel Woodrell has written his masterpiece — spare, dark, and incandescently beautiful. It broke my heart..." -- Dennis Lehane, best-selling author of The Given Day (and he'll write the foreword to the new edition of The Death of Sweet Mister!)
"The Death of Sweet Mister is a strong contender for my all-time favourite novel, crime or othewise." -- Allan Guthrie, Edgar Award-nominated author of Slammer and Killing Mum
"Put [The Death of Sweet Mister] on the shelf alongside Faulkner, Jim Thompson, and Cormac McCarthy. With this one, Mr. Woodrell has earned himself a piece of immortality." -- George Pelecanos, best-selling author of The Way Home (and writer for HBO's The Wire and The Pacific)
"Daniel Woodrell is one of those authors that's doing something not enough writers do. Write well about rural people, and about people that aren't all savvy and hundred dollar bills. He knows how to just tell the story. Reminds me of the storytellers I grew up with. They knew the power of a simple tale well told, and so does Woodrell." -- Joe R. Lansdale, award-winning author of Vanilla Ride
"Daniel Woodrell is consistently referred to as 'The Greatest Writer You Haven't Read Yet,' and as much as I hate that kind of labelling, I can't argue its veracity. Fact is, The Death of Sweet Mister is one of the finest novels, regardless of genre, published in the last fifty years, and Tomato Red is snapping at its heels. Nobody else can condense whole lives into less than 200 pages with such emotional truth, and nobody else comes close to the brittle perfection of his prose, stiletto sentences that leave you wondering why Woodrell isn't held in higher regard. Perhaps it's just because people haven't read him. I hope that changes with the new editions, and I envy those coming to him for the first time -- they're about to read real noir, the kind that comes from human beings, not characters." -- Ray Banks, author of Sucker Punch and No More Heroes
"City slickers like me go on and on about the 'mean streets,' but the country noir of Daniel Woodrell can be so rawboned, nasty and violent, it sends me scurrying back to relative safety and comfort of the closest dark, seedy alley. Grab all of the Woodrell you can find -- but don't say I didn't warn you." -- Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date
"Tomato Red. Death of Sweet Mister. The Ones You Do. Under the Bright Lights. Give Us a Kiss. Woe to Live On. These are just a few of Daniel Woodrell's stunning, unforgettable, and beautifully written books. His prose is lean, brutal and poetic, as are his characters. And yet despite the tragedy, violence and emotional pain in his stories, Woodrell always manages to find the humor, and the humanity... and even a little redemption. This man should be a bestselling author, held in the same high, popular regard as Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane. But while he's well-reviewed, he's not well-read, which is a shame. Hardly anybody besides critics and fellow writers are aware of him despite the fact that he's one of the best crime writers alive today... hell, he's one of the best novelists out there in any genre. He's the writer that other writers read to see how a master does the job... and to stay at the top of their game. If you love crime fiction, or just damn good writing, you've got to read this guy." -- Lee Goldberg, author of Mr. Monk in Trouble and The Man with the Iron-On Badge
"The first Daniel Woodrell book I ever read was Tomato Red. You know that feeling you get when you read something by a new to you author and your heart beats just that wee bit faster. You think 'this is it -- this guy is going to be one of my all time favourite authors' -- what a great feeling that is. From the first, awe inspiring sentence which is over 250 words long to the last heartbreaking page I was simply transported. As it happens, the second Daniel Woodrell I read was The Dead of Sweet Mister -- an uncomfortable, painful, brutal tale which is also poetic and beautiful and just... breathtakingly wonderful. It's a book of lost innocence, simmering rage, and ineffable cruelty that makes your heart ache. Daniel Woodrell is the master of making you care about people who live "lives of rancid nothingness". Their stories are so big, yet their lives are so small. I am so glad that Busted Flush Press are reprinting these two great books. Daniel Woodrell deserves a far wider audience. He's a genius." -- Donna Moore, author of Old Dogs and Go to Helena Handbasket...
"Daniel Woodrell's work transcends genre. Don't bother calling it 'crime' or 'noir' or 'southern gothic.' Just call it 'brutally magnificent' and get your dirty hands on as much of it as you possibly can." -- Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season
We'll have covers for Tomato Red and The Death of Sweet Mister in about a month, as well as book synopses, trade reviews, excerpts, and more! In the meantime, we encourage you to seek out Woodrell's latest release, Winter's Bone (2006, Back Bay Books), which is also very highly recommended by Busted Flush Press!