Review: Further Out Than You Thought, by Michaela Carter

About the book, Further Out Than You Thought Further Out Than You Thought

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 5, 2014)

From award-winning poet Michaela Carter comes a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about three twentysomethings searching for meaning in their lives

In the Neverland that is Los Angeles, where make-believe seems possible, three dreamers find themselves on the verge of transformation. Twenty-five-year-old poet Gwendolyn Griffin works as a stripper to put herself through graduate school. Her perpetually stoned boyfriend, Leo, dresses in period costume to hawk his music downtown and seems to be losing his already tenuous grip on reality. And their flamboyant best friend and neighbor, nightclub crooner Count Valiant, is slowly withering away.

When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Valiant is invigorated; Leo plans a new stunt—walking into East L.A. naked, holding a white flag; and Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is pulled between the girl she’s been and the woman she could become. But before Gwen can embrace motherhood, she’s forced to face the questions she’s been avoiding: Can Leo be a father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?

Weaving poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility, Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life, an ode to motherhood, and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.

Buy, read, and discuss Further Out Than You Thought

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About the author, Michaela Carter Michaela Carter

Michaela Carter is award-winning poet and writer. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, studied Theater at UCLA and holds an MFA in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of America Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals.

Recently she co-founded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and storyteller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children, and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College. This is her first novel.

Connect with Michaela

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My Thoughts

Reading this book was like living the life I didn’t actually have when I was in my twenties. Like Gwen, I was in California during the Rodney King riots; unlike her I was in the relative sanity of northern California, which was largely untouched by those events. Like Gwen, I was dating someone who would probably have been better as a short-term relationship, than not. Unlike Gwen, by the time I was twenty-five, I’d met my now-husband, and had stable employment that didn’t involve nudity.

The fact that some of Gwen’s story resonated with me, even though we’re vastly different people, tells you how much I enjoyed reading Further Out Than You Thought (A LOT) and should also give you a clue as to what I thought of the author’s work, but to be explicit: I think Michaela Carter is an important voice in contemporary fiction. She has a knack for creating vivid characters that are real enough to feel like people you might actually encounter, while still existing in the somewhat heightened reality that fictional characters tend to inhabit.

Similarly, she creates situations that resonate with her readers. Who hasn’t been torn between the comfort of a known relationship – even one that isn’t healthy – and the knowledge that breaking out of that comfort is the best thing you can do for yourself? Who hasn’t made a few low-percentage choices with jobs, school, and family from time to time?

This book isn’t a comedy, but like all really good stories, it’s replete with the sorts of organic comic moments that come from a life well-lived, just as it’s also got a full measure of pathos, but never lets you feel like you’re drowning in sadness or grimness.

While I, personally, would have dumped Leo in chapter one, I can see why Gwen remains attached to him, and I think all women have had a Leo in their life: the sensitive romantic who is completely ill-equipped to exist in the real world.

This novel is just gritty enough, just based in reality enough, just funny enough, just dramatic enough, to give us an accurate portrayal of the secondary coming of age that happens to most of us in our twenties. Better yet, it leaves us – or at least it left me – satisfied with how the story ended, and eagerly awaiting whatever author Carter publishes next.

Goes well with an iced cafe latte and two slices of pepperoni pizza, served on a paper plate, and eaten on a foggy beach.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.