The World Out There is set in Gainesville, FL during the early nineteen-nineties and its North-Central Florida setting is important as both physical and psychological space. In addition to Spanish moss, heat-radiating highways, and palmettos, the novel explores the violence beneath the glittering surface of the “Sunshine State”: racial tensions, neofascist violence against “others,” and a string of serial murders acts as an ominous backdrop for the action. The car wreck into Lake Walters, coming within the first pages, is a catalyst for action—the concentric waves radiating from the car dropping through that lake surface like danger reverberating throughout the book. The story follows the lives of three people—Jan, William, and Ray—with the action centered around a used bookstore. Each of these Gen-Xers came to Gainesville to get college degrees and then never left. Each watches his or her grandiose ideas of “success” drift away as they pass through their thirties, replaced with a vagueness of purpose, a nagging anxiety that there is something else they’re supposed to be doing.