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Editorial Reviews

When small-time cage fighter Charlie Rowan was reported dead from a car crash at age 25, it turned out there was a lot more to the story. In Tomato Can Blues, New York Times sports reporter Mary Pilon investigates aspiring MMA fighter Rowan's failed plan to end his troubles and start life anew by faking his own death. A polished performance from Emmy award-winning actor Bobby Cannavale, known for his portrayal of Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire, lends a dramatic edge to the story, while well-timed music adds to the mood and pace. A slickly-produced, compelling performance of a well-researched piece of long-form journalism, Tomato Can Blues makes for an intriguing listen.

Publisher's Summary

Charlie Rowan was a small-time cage fighter in rural Michigan who couldn't get a break.

His punches weren't landing. He owed money to impatient people. He needed to start over, but he didn't know how.

Then, at home on the sofa, he came up with a plan.

Original long-form journalism from The New York Times, read by the actor Bobby Cannavale.

Listen to more from The New York Times.

©2013 The New York Times Company (P)2013 The New York Times Company

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.2 out of 5.0
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  • Raleigh
  • greensboro, NC, United States
  • 09-30-13

the good, the bad and the ugly

my early childhood focused on "...good, better and best..."
competition, literacy and education were constantly stressed
and then, after 26 years of schooling, i became a resident physician

i was asked to care for people living "...good, bad and ugly..." lives
a steady diet of medicaid and uninsured patients came my way
i didn't help them so much as try to keep them from harming themselves

their capacity for self destructive behavior was truly impressive
their homes and neighborhoods were a finishing school for failure
mary pilon captures the mood and tone of this world better than anyone

bobby cannavale's matter-of-fact narration fits the story perfectly
does the USA really rank 38th in global, overall health care quality ?
the lives, brought to light, in mary pilon's story may help explain why

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Awesome Story!

I listened to this story and had it grip me from minute one. I don't know if it was the way the story was written or the the way it was read by the narrator, but, either way, I felt like I experienced the events in this story firsthand. Simply phenomenal!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Leslie
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 05-05-14

True Crime episode

This story reads like one of those "true crime" episodes on tv.
Sad-sack Charlie Rowan's life has always been on the "dead-end" track. He's a cage-fighter that fights for free, he owes some small time drug dealers some cash. So he decides to make the dash by playing dead. Only problem is, he doesn't leave the very small town in which he resides. To earn some cash to "maybe" leave town, Short-sighted Charlie decides to hold up a gun store.
It kind of goes down hill from there. Sort of a "how not to live your life " story. A bit dry in it's set up and delivery. But pretty good story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew Stuart
  • 01-23-15

Can I have that half an hour back please?

Very poor plotline and long pauses made this a a bit of a slog. Not surprisingly I wouldn't recommend wasting your time on this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful