Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter
William Morrow Paperbacks, 2014
304 pages, 3 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: “Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about twenty-five-year-old poet Gwendolyn Griffin works as a stripper to put herself through graduate school [and support] her perpetually stoned boyfriend Leo.
When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is confronted by troubling questions. Can Leo become a good, dependable father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?” – Goodreads.com
At first, I really enjoyed how descriptive and poetic the language was in Further Out Than You Thought. Despite the sordid content, the narrator manages to make her life as a stripper sound almost beautiful. However, as the book progressed, I found myself beginning to scan the parts where she “waxes poetic,” which are frequent.
I also was glad that the author didn’t shy away from sex scenes. However, she seems completely obsessed with Gwen’s life as a stripper and throughout the book describes it in great detail, but always with the qualification that she is also a student. So while the author inundates us with sexual content, we are supposed to remember that Gwen’s POV matters because she’s not just a stripper.
In addition, I thought there would be a little bit more of a history lesson on the L.A. riots of the 90s, but was disappointed. Though there is one black character that is well developed, we don’t hear explicitly how he feels about the riots. And the white characters don’t ask him! This seems like a great missed opportunity to me.
I enjoyed reading this book, because it made taboo things like transgender and bisexuality seem like the most normal thing in the world. And I feel like that should be more common. However, I wish it had done the same for race because the book uses the race riots as the background.
ABOUT THE OUTFIT: Student-poet by day, stripper by night. Your conflicting personalities, Gwen and Stevie, have conflicting ideas on what you should wear. Your girlish alter-ego loves her Mary Janes, and you’ve found some that are versatile enough to wear on the street and the stage.
Pair them with these skin tight jeans that are getting tighter everyday. This billowing sleeveless shirt will hide your swelling breasts and belly for a little while, and maybe that’s all the time you need.
Underneath, this lacy number makes you feel sexy and empowered like dancing in front of strange men does. The black eyeliner allows you to take on a whole new nighttime look, especially when using it AND the lip/cheek stain.
Your signature sent is something citrus-y, which reminds you of your long lost mother. “Stay with me” Leo says to you, but you know it doesn’t make sense. For now, you’ll handcuff him and drag him to Mexico to avoid the riots. But eventually, you’ll have to let him go.
About 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.
Michaela’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, August 5th: Turn the Page
Wednesday, August 6th: Love at First Book
Thursday, August 7th: More Than Just Magic
Friday, August 8th: BooksAreTheNewBlack
Monday, August 11th: The Written World
Wednesday, August 13th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, August 14th: Bibliotica
Friday, August 15th: Books and Bindings
Monday, August 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 19th: Conceptual Reception
Wednesday, August 20th: cupcake’s book cupboard
Thursday, August 21st: Books on the Table