Off the Shelf: "Further Out Than You Thought," by Michaela Carter

Michaela Carter's debut novel, "Further Out Than You Thought," is a luminescent paean to authenticity, poetry, and erotism. Tightly wrought, the novel tells the story of Gwen, a poet and exotic dancer whose discovery that she is pregnant coincides with the outbreak of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. As the illusions that LA had built up fracture and fall away, so do Gwen's illusions about her increasingly delusional Peter Pan boyfriend, Leo, as she wrestles with whether or not he can grow with her to become the partner that she needs him to be.

Gwen, Leo, and their friend Valiant are brilliant characters and their friendship alone makes this wonderful book worth reading. But the writing also is outstanding, the evocation of LA and its illusions is perfect, Gwen's struggles with her future are easy to sympathize with, and the book provides one of the few windows into the LA riots in any book, fiction or non-fiction.

"Further Out Than You Thought" is a story of searching for that tenuous place where dreams and reality intermingle to create wonder and poetry. It is a joy to read, often funny and sometimes heartwrenching, but always beautiful, even when looking unflinchingly at difficult and dark things.

The Peregrine Book Company will be hosting the launch party for "Further Out Than You Thought" on Saturday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. Food and refreshments will be served and admission is free. Michaela is a co-founder of the Peregrine Book Company, as well as a longtime professor of poetry and creative writing at Yavapai College, where she will be teaching Introduction to Poetry (CRW141) this fall. She is an Arizona native and lives in Prescott.

The Peregrine Book Company is located at 219A North Cortez St., in Prescott.