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Posted: May 1, 2022

Joe Ide is a unique talent

Book Review

By Derryll White

Ide, Joe (2020).  Hi Five.

Joe Ide is one of a kind. In a 340-page novel there is no down time. He doesn’t just pile action upon action, he weaves temperament, background and human emotion slickly between the characters, filling them out while they fight and flee.

Ide is polished as a writer.  He reaches back to his first novel, “IQ”, and brings the primary characters forward without a lot of explanation. They simply find their way into the story, clearly bringing their history with them. The City of Los Angeles is treated the same way – layer upon layer of colour and detail, a pointillist view of a complex organism.  Ide makes the city breathe.

Many of Joe Ide’s characters are damaged – multiple personalities, deep self-loathing, continuing depression.  Whatever, they work it through just like in real life.  Very few of us are rock solid and the author plays to that, showing potential ways out of some of the deep-rooted problems any of us might have.

Throughout the novel Ide casts off word images, sparkling gems such as “the sun was saying good night to the world.”

Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is a unique character.  Guns blaze all around him, but he doesn’t pull a trigger.  He logics his way through every situation, except love.  He still doesn’t seem to have a grip on the love of his life, Grace.

This is a novel that will make every reader laugh, wonder, and contemplate the world we live in.  Joe Ide himself is unique.


Excerpts from the novel:

PARENTHOOD – :How’s Micah? “ Isaiah said.

“He’s doing aright,” Dodson said.  “Big-head boy thinks he can walk, stumbling around with his feet all wide apart, little hands up in the air, and making goo-goo noises that Cherise say are words, that’s a fortunate lil’ muthafucka, growing up proper-like.  Got love all around him, don’t have to worry about nothin’!”

SOCIAL CLASS – Angus’s daughter, Christiana, lived in Newport Beach, not far from her father’s place.  The drive there from Long Beach was depressing, the transition from want to bountiful, from struggle to ease, from peril to relative safety, Isaiah wondered what algorithm of race, history, economics, politics and law had led to a divide so deep and insoluble.  Experts had explanations, but it was like describing the universe.  Whatever your vantage point, there was so much to wrap your head around.

A PRIVATE UNIVERSE – Grace was angry about a lot of things.  Some rational, some not.  She was angry about her mother abandoning her and that she was failing as an artist.  She was angry because she’d spent so much of her life in self-imposed isolation.  She was angry because she had to kill a man and that Walazak had murdered her father.  She was angry because she had to leave Isaiah, the love of her life, and go to New Mexico because she was so fucked up.  Because she couldn’t handle her shit, because her goddamn problem dictated what she could and couldn’t do.  Angry because she was always always in her own fucking way.  She wondered if there were other people like her, walking around seemingly normal and workaday, while underneath, a blazing pool of magma waited to erupt and lay waste to reason.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at

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