Attn.: There's plenty of sex in the novel, some of it graphic and all of it central to Stromme's protagonist and his job as a public writer.

Resume.

Foreground.
Joe, an educated loner, self-exiled and recently re- incarnated as a public writer, and his biggest client, Willy. Into this compromised, ordered and distanced world comes the proverbial stranger: Clio, whose passion is sketching flowers, although it's her portraits of dogs that pays rent.
Others critical to the novel: Pete, Joe's former friend in the Peace Corps, now helicopter pilot for a local CBS station; Beannie, a mentally disturbed gadfly; and Teresa, Joe's part-time secretary and owner of the hair salon adjacent to Joe's Word, where Stromme's characters eat cake and kibbitz.
Background.
A helicopter crash, LAPD abuse and assorted run-of-the-mill, inner-city murders.
Overhead.
The whop of chopper blades.

 
 

 

Underground Background.
Stromme's research in this novel mainly concerned issues of air rights and related transgressions, notably pollution trading, satellites and helicopters. In a small way, Joe's Word could be considered the final edition of Robert Towne/Jack Nicholson's epic sweep of L.A. history: "Chinatown's" grab for water, "Two Jakes" grab for land, and now, in Joe's Word, L.A.'s air going to the highest bidder.

 

REVIEWS AND PRAISE IN THE STATES:

"Steeped in the noir world of people living on the fringes, taunted by broken dreams and desires beyond their grasp..."Joe's Word" is a singular book, one that defies description even as it haunts the reader." -- Vince Keenan, Mystery*File #4

"Good things always seem to come in the small, neat editions packaged in the City Lights Noir series. JOE'S WORD (City Lights, paper, $11.95) gets my nod for the wry wit of its author, Elizabeth Stromme, and for the amused affection she has for the unglamorous neighborhood at the losing end of Sunset Boulevard...The love letters and missives of grievance that emanate from Joe's desk produce a clientele that could break your head as quick as your heart."
-- Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"It's hard to understand why this delightful novel made its debut in France in 1996 and has only just graced its hometown, but it may be that the French love our L.A. noir almost as much -- the French publishers even more -- than we do. The Joe of the title is a writer for hire, the modern equivalent of a medieval scribe."
-- Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"A dark, dark vision of L.A. and the people who live there. The city of Los Angeles is so strongly depicted, it stands out as a "character" as strongly as it does in anything by Raymond Chandler or James M. Cain...[It's] a kind of scary and dangerous and moody place."
-- Steven Nester, "Poets of the Tabloid Murder"

"Joe's Word is a one of a kind, an oddly touching book about a part of L.A. that's too rarely written about, and a picture of the kind of community people seldom imagine exists there. Elizabeth Stromme is a gifted and funny writer with real flair, and Joe's Word is a terrific read."
-- Scott Phillips

"Intriguing, offbeat noir fiction."
-- Lev Raphael, Detroit Free Press

"Stromme packages her moral message in a pitch-perfect rendition of a postwar crime novel, complete with an existentially slow buildup to the main action and a large helping of sexual perversion. This is the novel Jim Thompson would write if he were still kicking."
-- Frank Sennett, Booklist Copyright (c) American Library Association. All rights reserved.

"Stromme deserves all the praise, though the [Booklist] is a positive review, it does the book a disservice by being so misleading. "Sexual perversity"? What the hell? She displays an amazing skill at portraying normal sex, and more precisely, capturing the anxiety and apprehension around will-it-or-won't-it happen. And that Jim Thompson analogy...well, maybe if Joe killed Clio there'd be something to that. Stromme's writing is witty and evocative enough that it doesn't need to be propped up with a `noir' crutch."
-- Eddie Muller

"Those Brides! Just the sadness and the bravery of all of it -- I opened your book yesterday, read until finished it...and am filled with admiration!"
-- Carolyn See

"A worthwhile and haunting read."
-- Stephanie Mojica, Altar Magazine

U.K. REVIEWS:

"What I found particularly interesting about this excellent neo-noir is the way Stromme, unconsciously or otherwise, is able to gender-bend the language, [making] Joe's Word a refreshing take on the genre, so often overladen with macho syntax and references. Not that this book isn't hardboiled or filled with witticisms, acute observations and true-to-life dialogue...Joe will put pen to paper for anyone willing to pay for his services. Which makes him the ultimate freelancer, and an interesting update on the traditional private eye in which the pen has replaced the pistol."
-- Woody Haut, Crime Time No. 37, 2004

FRENCH REVIEWS:

"...a funny and sensitive portrait of a disenfranchised neighborhood in Los Angeles." -- Le Monde

"As hilarious as "The Big Lebowski" by the Coen brothers... a small masterpiece of dry tenderness." -- Les Inrockuptibles

"As well-made and troubling as the legs on the book jacket... Dangerous." -- Cosmopolitan (French édition)

"Extremely vivid...A terrific gift for those who read it." -- "A Toute Allure" talk show, Radio France Inter

"[It's] characters [are] never in a hurry, slightly off-kilter but extremely endearing." -- Lire

(c) Copyright Elizabeth Stromme. All rights reserved.

WHAT IS A WRITER FOR HIRE?

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