Find Your Own Way Home
Changing Light Novel-In-Verse Prize Winner!

by Michael George
Coming July 2024!

ISBN 978-1-60489-371-7, Trade Paper, $19.95







"Beginning in the voice of a punchline villain and ending with a philosophically rapturous finale, Michael George’s Find Your Own Way Home is a deep meditation on loneliness, the reverberations of violence, and ‘homelessness’ in an existential sense. Jumping between multiple perspectives—from a female truck driver to a wandering preacher to a police detective—George constructs a cutthroat world that bends meticulously around perception, vengeance, and the sticky tethers that bind us to the worst versions of our humanity. This tightly wound novel in verse renders a raw world that we can’t—despite our best human efforts—resist: a cyclic cosmos of darkness that spreads as predictably as our interstate highways. What’s remarkable about this brutal place, like that of our own violent world, is that it still carries the fragility of a single plate of glass, that it still carries all the vulnerability of an abandoned, pink shoe. I am astonished with what George sets out for us to do in all this muck; that we ‘might bend / the way the light bends, toward the dark / without succumbing to it.’ A brilliant and necessary read."

—Jessica Q. Stark, Author of Buffalo Girl and Poetry Editor at AGNI


“Michael George’s Find Your Own Way Home is a collision of criminality and verse. It’s a beautifully conceived distillation of desperation and reality, a lyrical ode to the essence of noir.”

—Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author, dubbed the noir poet laureate by The Huffington Post




About the Author:

Writing as Michael George, Michael Wiley is the author of eleven novels and two books of literary criticism. Recipient of the Best Novel Shamus Award for A Bad Night’s Sleep as well as other prizes and nominations for his long fiction, he also publishes short stories, including “Where There’s Love,” selected for the Best Mystery Stories of 2022 anthology. His fiction focuses on crime, in Chicago, where he grew up, the Southeast, where he has lived for the past twenty-five years, and, as in Find Your Own Way Home, the spaces in between.

Having worked as an itinerant cherry picker, an attendant at an in-patient mental health facility, and a speechwriter, Michael is a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of North Florida. 




Excerpt from Book:


They call

me Bad Boy, racing around town

the way I do, the town worth racing,

bumping shoulders on the signs

that say just what they mean—First Bank,

like there’s a second?—Bouquet Florist,

’cause you can’t afford a vase?—

Block City Pizza, ’cause they don’t

have paint to paint the cinderblocks?—

and Bob’s Used Auto Sales and Buy-

Me Discount Furniture, which tells

you all you need to know. And me?

Bad Boy because I ain’t no good.


A dustball cheapskate town and Broad

Street much the way is just two lanes,

which goes to show you what broad counts

for here—and Hollow Rock is Nowhere

Tennessee, but, like they say,

it’s home—which is the reason why

I put a big-block V-8 in

my ’72 Chevelle—the reason,

come midnight when the hollow sounds

like some disease has done its work—

and all the houses empty, all

the people dead—I light the fuse

and race up Seminary Street,

across Old Pisgah Road, around

back southward over the Hollow Rock

Branch railroad tracks a hundred miles

an hour—my tires leave asphalt and

I fly. Watch me—I fly.


I stocked

the shelves at Hometown Market till

they locked the doors, and then I washed

the kettles at The Iron Kettle,

then cut the grass at Prospect Baptist—

but lately I’d been sleeping in

and thinking about my future, which

looked hungry. Bondo was the plan.

If Bob would go in halves, I’d fix,

he’d sell.


Then Tommy took up cooking

until his Shake-and-Bake exploded

high to Kingdom Come—and when

the doctors kicked him out, his skin

looked like a python’s on the day

it sheds, which made me think life’s short

and auto body’s a fool’s slog.

A boy like me needs quick.


On Friday nights that autumn,

when Tommy could go out again,

we drove to Central High and watched

the Tigers beat the mangy fur

off Collinwood, McEwen, Gleason.

Tommy, who still wore sunglasses

at night—because his corneas—

danced in the stands, his Ray Charles teeth,

cheerleaders flipping, tumbling, yelling

the things they yell.


That’s when

I saw her slip behind the stands,

her back to all that sound—and I

told Tommy, Find your own ride home,

and down I went and never came

back up for air until West Memphis,

where I got too much of it.


The girl was crying, sitting on

the yellow dirt, her arms around

her knees, pink high-top sneakers loose,

like she was sinking. Why? I said.

The look she gave me—I could skate

across those eyes.


   She said,

The world is sad—Can’t a girl cry?

I said, The Tigers up Eight-O,

the world is sad? The moon so high—

The stars? Because I talk that way.

She said, You talk real dumb. I said,

It’s how I talk when I’m in love.

In Hollow Rock a line like that

gets A for effort, even if

a girl thinks you’re a douche. My name,

she said, is Alison. I said,

I won’t forget that name. Not ever.