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FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT: A Novel ~Michaela Carter

Monday, August 18th, 2014

“As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.” (Page 11)
“ __ how small she wished she could become.  So she could hide from even herself” (page 77)
“If things weren’t hard, something was wrong.” (page189)
“After all, she was the one with the key.” (page226)

FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT is a fictional story about a week in 1992 in Los Angeles.  After receiving the early uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours for review, I immediately read the cover and was thrilled to be reading a work by such an amazing poet and writer – Michaela Carter.  Several of her poems have been included in our poetry study group over the years.


The cover said, “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.”

Gwen is a doctoral candidate in poetry, working as a nude dancer in a strip club in L.A.  She is our confused and sorting heroine of the story.  She also pays the way for the others to live and rationalize their lives.  Valiant is an older lounge singer who is suffering in the last days of AIDS, who is smoking himself and possible drinking himself to death while living in Gwen’s apartment building.  Len is Gwen’s boyfriend and a musician who attempts to sell his CDs on the street corner dressed in a revolutionary period costume.  I would have to say that cockroaches are high up on the character list along with dirty dishes, disorder, and dysfunctional actions.  Nothing resolves until the Rodney King Riots began and the whole city was shut down to control looting; the city was permeated with smoke from the burning fires.  Everyone was stuck at home, with no view or running out of distractions.

Almost every chapter of FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT had a theme song and shared lyrics and poetry.  When I had finished the book, I went back and noted the metaphor or concept these words entered into the theme of the story. It was not a very fruitful exercise and I was left with tons of metaphors that seemed to overwhelm the story. Red, red, red, water, water, water, smoke, smoke, smoke, drinking, drinking, drinking, drugs, drugs, drugs, dance, dance, dance, dark, dark, dark; the list is even longer and  I personally found it exhausting to read and attempt to figure out.  Too much poetry?

The backstories of the three friends were well done and kept the story moving forward for me.  I so felt a sense of release when the trio decided to head to Tijuana to escape the riots and curfews and the ocean air allowed for clarity of thought to arise.  I was happy dancing when Gwen found the Grandmotherly Mexican Psychic and she believed the reading of the cards.  Whew! It was relief for the reader also.

Several days after finishing this book, I went for a walk to think about Robin William’s death and review all that I know about suicide, pain and healing.  It struck me that the erotic parts of Further Out Than You Thought are all based on the American addiction to violence and how it permeates our lives and is so common it is out of the awareness. Violence is common as dirt.  In this story, it is the riptide and strong undercurrent in the search for meaning and happiness.  The strawberries are blood red and release juicy, sweet joy.

“Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer.  She studied theater at UCLA and holds a MFA in creative writing, and her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of American 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 story-teller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.  This is her first novel.”

Michaela Carter Online
Michaela Carter Facebook
Michaela Carter Peregrine Book Company 

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Painting Juliana
The Qualities of Wood
Outside In

The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion To Redemption ~Rodney King

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The Riot Within is an important story to be told and shared in our time.  It is Rodney King’s telling  of how he became an ICON in the civil rights movement and how that icon status affected his personal life over the past 20 years.  It is the 20 year anniversary of the beating he received in Los Angeles.

King has been beaten down most of his life; the moments when someone was not doing it to him, he was busy blaming himself and “beating himself up” primarily thorough alcohol abuse and drug use.   He could be an icon for a child of poverty, or a child of substandard education, or the child of an alcoholic parent, or just a survivor of a racist environment.

King is holding onto self- blame for the riots that followed the verdict and for the deaths of people who participated in the riots. As the reader, I am asking, where is the advocate for this person, where is the compassion for this human being become icon, and did he truly need to be on Celebrity Rehab to prove his self-worth?

I am appalled that his lawyers took such a huge cut of his settlement and victimized him again. Lawyer Brutality.  We need to know this information.  We need to stop blaming  and victimizing King. We could demand that his legal counselors give the money back.  We could re-exam our prejudice and racism in our culture.

King will probably never reclaim his icon status, and yet because he is doing the ‘work’ he may regain his own selfhood and recovery.  The man is job hunting and still has pain.

This book needs to be in every High School Library and included in college reading lists.  It is a powerful messenger.  Timely.

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and review this book.  Thank you Mr. King for writing the book, for HarperOne for sending me a copy and for TLC book tours for asking.

tlclogoIf you purchase anything from Amazon from this site, or Kindle, or Powell’s I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

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Situations Matter
Shiny Objects
Mug vs Heart 

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The Face of Please Don’t Shoot Me

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

close up please don't (2)

One of the very nicest parts of a Memorial Service is the opportunity to see family members, who often live very far away.  I had a lovely visit with my cousin Cathie from Cincinnati, Ohio during the family dinner and an opportunity to get acquainted with her talented and wonderful children.

Cathie shared her recent work with me via photographs and I was so moved by her weaving that I asked if I might share her pictures and story with you here.

In 2001, a young man – a boy really – was chased by police and fatally shot when he reached to his waist to pull up his jeans and keep running.   He was just a boy in the wrong place at the wrong time, and innocent of any violation or crime.   What followed was 4 days of rioting over this injustice in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

My cousin was driving home and found herself caught up in the mob scene and had to creatively find an exit from the anger and rage.  As she turned a corner to get clear she saw a boy standing on the corner holding a sign which said, “PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME.”

The image of the boy on the corner was stuck into her mind.

In 2010, Cathie heard about a fiber art exhibit which depicted a human face or form and she knew right away that she would use the image frozen into her mind that fateful day.   She spent 8 months working and designing the piece and over 250 hours weaving.

Here is the picture of PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME:
please don't shoot me (2)

In Cathie’s own words of description:

“The piece did get into the YWCA exhibit downtown, opening April 15th 2011. The criteria were a piece of fiber art which depicted a human face or form. The name of the piece is Please Don’t Shoot Me: Portrait of a Young Man, as Witnessed by the Artist, Cincinnati Riots 2001. Woven 2011, Tapestry, wool.“

I was so moved by her story and her work; it just needed to be shared with you.

Fiber Artist:  Catherine Beckman Cincinnati, Ohio


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I so enjoy your comments and hope you enjoyed this fine tapestry.