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Further Out Than You Thought: A Novel Paperback – August 5, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


“Michaela Carter is such a fine, original writer, with a gritty sensuality and musical ear. The characters in Further Out Than You Thought are young, self-destructive, and wild, as well as vulnerable and complex. This is an enthralling book.” (Kate Christensen, author of The Astral)

Further Out Than You Thought is as seductive as a velvet-curtained club, as surprising as a dancer who first peels off her clothes, then peels away her skin to reveal her shimmering, complicated heart.” (Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds)

“Lovely, taut and lyrical—Further Out Than You Thought pulls back the curtain on a misunderstood life, showing that true nakedness is not found under strip club lights but in the reveal of a heart. This is a wonderful book.” (Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted)

“This debut from award-winning poet Carter is an unexpected gift. . . . a fable for those who remember the bad old days.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Sexy, sleek and fearless, this debut simmers with vivid language and vulnerability, and is enthralling to the end. I loved it. I mean really loved it.” (Jimmy Santiago Baca, award-winning poet and author of A Glass of Water)

From the Back Cover

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.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062292374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062292377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer. She studied theater at UCLA and holds an MFA in creative writing, and 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 cofounded 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 two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.

Customer Reviews

Stunning, beautiful, and poetic.
David Kukoff
A brilliantly written novel that captures the surreal experiences of a young woman and her search for identity, meaning and the courage to follow her dreams.
It was a very interesting story that kept me not wanting to put the book down.
abe varela

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Satia Renee VINE VOICE on May 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter is a novel about a young woman who, upon finding out she’s pregnant, faces the decision of a lifetime. Will she stay with her charming boyfriend and raise their child together, will she rid herself of the fetus, will she dare to disturb her universe, or will she find a compromise? I don’t know what my expectations were for this novel. The blurb lured me enough to request a review copy and, you’ll have to forgive me but, I’m about to gush with unimpeded enthusiasm.

I fell in love with this novel, if not the characters. I read an article a while back about “coming-of-age” novels no longer being limited to the sexual awakening of teenagers and has begun to branch out into young adults moving from youthful irresponsibility to more mature decision making, growing up from being self-indulgent to self-aware. In that sense, this novel is a bildungsroman, as hinted to in the blurb itself.

Gwen lives “in the Neverland that is Los Angeles,” the reader is told, and we quickly meet her in her alter-ego as Stevie, a dancer in a strip club. The novel is rife with literary allusions, from the more obvious Peter Pan and Wizard of Oz to the more subtle. I caught one to The Great Gatsby that the author herself says was unintentional (via Twitter) and followed along with the obvious T S Eliot allusions (The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and Wasteland although I think there was another unintentional nod to Little Giddings). This novel is tightly written, wasting no moment, no metaphor, and the reader feels the claustrophobia of Gwen’s life almost immediately.

I couldn’t help but think this book would make an excellent one for a book group discussion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Gwen, Valiant, Leo. Diverse futures spread before them. But, in the present, does that future matter?
For Gwen, the future includes the complication of an unborn child and all the unanswered questions growing alongside it. Should she stay with Leo? How long will she be able to continue her lucrative career in stripping? For Valentine, the future appears bleak, inebriated and short-lived. Suffering from AIDS and alcoholism, his future could end that day for all he knows. For Leo, the future depends solely on the next idea to pop in his freewheeling head. Leo himself rarely knows what that idea may be.
Set in the fires of riot-torn 1992 Los Angeles, Michaela Carter’s memorable first novel “Further Out Than You Thought” explores the lives of three very different individuals who are inexorably intertwined by the inescapable bonds of friendship and love.
The L.A. Riots, spurned by the Rodney King verdict so many years ago, and so very fresh in the minds of readers now exposed to the fiery racial confrontations in Ferguson, MO, plays a key role in the trio’s life journey.
But the smoke of conflict and social injustice cannot be called a simple villain, nor is it something to be feared and dissected by sociology majors. Here the riots are an encouraging breath of fresh air, an impetus to action. The riots keep the chairs too hot to sit on, forcing the characters to stay on their feet, to remain active and vibrant throughout the novel.
Poetic descriptions add an endless well of emotion to this fast-paced, compelling novel of self-discovery. The book carries heartfelt, yet street-wise, musings on the questions we all face at one point in our largely disappointing lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joe DiBuduo on August 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Michaela Carter’s Further Out Than You Thought is a great novel, alive with descriptive language and incredibly vivid imagery so real I still believe I was there with Gwendolyn, Leo and especially Count Valiant. She created the Count’s personality so realistically I felt as though I personally knew him and understood why he smoked, drank, and got high to excess. During 1992 AIDS was a feared killer and barely understood. Leo showed great compassion by remaining friends with Valiant when most people would have shunned him because of his infection with the deadly virus.
Descriptions of the strippers and their routines were interesting as were all the metaphors the author included in this novel. Though I believe the story more geared for females, as a man, I immensely enjoyed the vivid, lyrical writing style used in this novel and would recommend it to all women and most men.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laraine A. Herring on August 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Carter's debut novel brings us deep into the heart of a young woman trying to find her way -- as an artist, as a woman, and perhaps as a mother. In lyrical prose that wraps around you like the coziest of blankets, you will find yourself swept away into the lives of these unlikely friends and lovers. It's a novel that navigates that dangerous passage between adolescence and adulthood--that time that comes for all of us when we realize for the first time that life is not what we thought it would be, that things don't always work out, and that our choices have consequences. It's a story of beginnings, of the elasticity of love, and the price that we pay for growing up. Perhaps Carter's greatest gift to us through this novel is a chance to feel compassion for our younger selves and our reckless choices -- to show us a way to look back at our pasts with softness and grace.
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