Short Take: Further Out Than You Thought – Michaela Carter

This is poet and bookseller Carter’s first novel and an August Indie Next pick. The story of three young friends coming of age during the 1992 LA riots, this reminded me a little of Ten Thousand Saints in its evocation of time and place—and of young people on the fringes of society trying to find their way past survival and into adulthood.

The prize-winning poet Carter’s striking debut novel depicts 1992 Los Angeles around the time of the Rodney King riots, following aspiring writer–turned–stripper Gwendolyn Griffin, her deadbeat pot-smoking boyfriend Leo, and their mutual friend, HIV-positive crooner Count Valiant. At the outset of the story, the trio lives in a decaying, roach-infested complex called the Cornell. They are each poised for metamorphosis: Gwen has learned that she is pregnant, Leo is planning an absurd publicity stunt, and Count is mentally preparing for the end of his life. The brutality of the riots convinces them to leave the city: “That’s what you did when your city was burning, the city in which you’d lived and dreamed and loved; that’s what you did when you had just this night.” They embark on an impromptu road trip that forces them to confront hard truths about themselves and map out the future. Carter’s lyrical writing and cast of characters resonate with the backdrop of a city in flames.”
— Publishers Weekly

“This debut from award-winning poet Carter is an unexpected gift. . . . The author infuses her period piece with shades of post-punk cynicism and the caustic, abandon-all-hope vibe of the grunge years while drawing characters who fit well into the book’s gritty ambiance . . . a fable for those who remember the bad old days.”
Kirkus Reviews

Further Out Than You Thought (9780062292377) by Michaela Carter. $14.99 trade paper original. 8/5/14 on sale.

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