Joe Schwartz Responds to Reader Letters

Over the course of three short-story collections, Central Library employee and STL Scribblers alum Joe Schwartz has built a reputation as one of St. Louis’s most relentless and determined writers. Drawing his inspiration from John Steinbeck and Stephen King, Joe’s work portrays members of what he calls the “underclass,” a growing segment of working-class Americans stranded between middle-class stability and desperation. His unsparing depictions of this class — and their often illegal activities — have earned him a substantial following on Amazon, where his latest book, The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis, can be obtained either in trade paperback or e-book format. His next book, a novel, will be published through Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing of North Carolina. We asked Joe to respond to some of his mail here, and he agreed.

Mr. Schwartz,

I brought your book home from the library the other day thinking it was a book on tarot. Unfortunately I cannot figure out how to use it.


Agnes Miller
Foggy Glades Retirement Home
Baltimore, MD

Dear Agnes,

You should send me all your money immediately in the form of a cashier’s check.  The sooner you do this, the sooner the book will properly work.

Best, Joe


Your latest book, The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis, includes portrayals of hustlers, murderers, addicts, and juvenile delinquents, as well as descriptions of litter, graffiti, and urban decay. Do you have any plans to showcase the Gateway Arch, Forest Park, the Art Museum, or any of the other fine attractions St. Louis has to offer?


Ed Zimmerman
St. Louis Board of Tourism
St. Louis, MO

Dear Ed,

I think hustlers, murderers, et al. are fine bullet points by which to publicize the city. We should see if we can get a photographer to snap some photos of people being mugged while using the Metrolink or having their cars broken into on unsecured lots while attending Cardinals games or giving their money to the numerous homeless people who wander the city who might just cut your throat if you don’t give them a dollar. I suggest giving everybody you meet in St. Louis a dollar just to be on the safe side.

Best, Joe

Mr. Schwartz,

Your books seem to be quite popular with the prisoners here. I gather they speak of themes and experiences that these men can relate to. However, you will understand that we do not wish to inflame these men. Recidivism is a concern. I am considering removing your books from the prison library.


Bradley Finneran
Assistant Warden
Central Utah Dept of Corrections
Provo, UT

Dear Bradley,

My friends do not think you should do that. Nobody would like to see any accidents befall your family of 251 West Nottingham Drive. What you should do is hand out multiple copies of my book and get a very long key to start your car.

Best, Joe

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