Combining the eloquence and raw sensuality of Jeanette Winterson with the romantic, renegade spirit of Patti Smith, Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about three people searching for identity and meaning from award-winning poet and indie bookshop co-founder Michaela Carter.
In the Neverland that is Los Angeles, where make-believe seems real, 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 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?
Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility, Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.
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.