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His demented neighbors, a mob boss and a choir of interdimensional aliens with sharp teeth are not the only things that stand between Shawn and jazz stardom. A bigger problem is no one likes his crazy music. Worst of all, it scares off Carole, the woman he loves more than anyone. It even scares himself because he knows one day he’ll follow his reckless muse until he goes insane, and Carole will stay away forever. When his soul collides with reality, Shawn must choose between his art and his love.



“Scott Shachter’s Outside In is indeed a jazz novel—continually swinging with surprises and insights into human

exceptionalism, both inspiring and desperate. It got so inside me I had to go back and read it again for more kicks.” 

Nat Hentoff, legendary columnist/social historian and author of 32 books, including At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on

the Jazz Scene, and Jazz Is.


"Outside In is an extraordinary work by any standards, not least because it is a novel that explores the experience of 'genius'

and its ever-ambiguous relationship with 'madness' . . . A work of startling imagination . . . Outside In deserves a read, being

that rare thing, a jazz novel by a jazz man."
Jazzwise Magazine


"Outside In is an intriguing fantasy from inside the jazz world, all narrated by the main character, Shawn. 'Playing' Shawn is professional saxophonist Scott Shachter, a storyteller who makes you want to know what will happen next."
--Ira Gitler, distinguished jazz historian and producer, and author of Swing to Bop and Jazz Masters of the Forties, and with

Leonard Feather, The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. 


"Outside In is a cosmic jazz fairy tale . . . a novel of great imagination, of the juxtaposition of fantastic fantasia with mundane

jazz-poverty-nightmare, of redemption in the most unlikely circumstances, under the most unlikely conditions . . . The book

is a page turner, well-written, funny and tragic, a fable filled with insights on the music and the world in which it does or does

not exist . . . Shachter captivates."    

--Gapplegate Music Review


"The author's tongue-in-cheek, sometimes sarcastic humor, is well written, and kept me laughing out loud as I ventured into

his tale of music and madness. This book is a page turner." 
--Dee Dee


"Scott Shachter’s Outside In travels a literary orbit similar to Douglas Adams or Kurt Vonnegut, rocketing through such

disparate worlds as jazz music, zealot gangsters, elder-care facilities, schizophrenic painting, extra-dimensional dog planets,

even the Holocaust. By turns hilarious, provocative, surreal and inspiring, it’s a comic, cosmic journey through the meaning of

reality and beyond." 

Steve Armour, Hollywood screenwriter and celebrated New York jazz trombonist.

Outside In was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, gained Honorable Mention in the 2011 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest and reached the quarterfinals in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.


Excerpt from Outside In - Scott Shachter
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Outside In audiobook sample of first eight pages. Studio narration by Scott Shachter.

I still hope one day to produce the full audiobook. If you're interested, please send an email with "Audiobook" in the subject line, to

Two Related Articles published at

Outside In: A Jazz (and Writing) Odyssey

A Writer’s Appreciation of Nat Hentoff

More Reviews 

“Scott Shachter's Outside In is a funny and warm novel, which joins an intriguing genre of ‘jazz fantasies’. . . Like Toni Morrison [and] Ralph Ellison among others, Outside In takes a music based on passion, skill, interaction and abstraction as a fast-shifting lens through which to look at ineffable questions of identity, ambition, the wills of the heart and maybe even the nature of reality itself.”Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association and author of Future Jazz, and Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz.

"A fascinating, unsettling, enjoyable journey. Scott Shachter's writing is exceptional--clear, creative and captivating."

Joel Leach, past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE)


“The boundary between creative genius and madness is often an unnervingly thin and permeable one . . . Outside In  explores that mysterious frontier . . . through the protagonist and narrator, Shawn Lewis, a talented New York City saxophonist who can’t get out of his own way, let alone forge a successful career . . . His psychological journey will ultimately lead him to a new kind of understanding and liberation . . . Shachter’s story has humor and heart, and will give the reader much to chew on.”Fearless Reviews

“A stunning jazz book, from a player's side, and extremely funny . . . Ambitious, insightful and hilarious. A real achievement. Shachter walks a very fine line here, pairing the loftiest, fantastical human heights with some deep human suffering. It would all be too much if it wasn't hilarious at every turn. It's at its best when most adventurous, most risky, and in those moments, which begin subtly and then take over the book, this novel is absolutely spectacular. I loved it.”

Andrew Sterman, featured soloist, Philip Glass Ensemble

"Five stars! Humorous, insightful, imaginative and full of metaphors. And very romantic."

Ted Nash, featured soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

“A tremendous jazz novel. Funny yet also sad and profound—and always engaging. You’re hooked right from the first sentence.”Walt Weiskopf, renowned saxophonist with Steely Dan

“This wonderful debut novel blends the zany, unpredictable life of the New York freelance musician with an Ignatius P. Reilly-esque world of near insanity. Throw in a bit of surreal fantasy and the result is utterly engaging and page-turnable. As a musician, avid reader and fiction writer myself, I assure you this book does not disappoint on any level. Read it!”

Belinda Whitney, concertmaster, Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra

"A thoroughly enjoyable roller-coaster ride. Scott has captured the struggles within all of us trying to find the balance between maintaining the integrity of our art versus the demands of conforming to a commercial world in order to gain acceptance . . . Bravo!" Dave Black, vice president and editor-in-chief, Alfred Music

“Brilliant! Shachter's novel is peopled with real-life characters trying to cope in a world that has suddenly turned surreal. (Do you ever have days like that? I know I do.) I laughed out loud all the way through the book because his characters are so exactly like people I know. Highly recommended.”Les Scott, legendary Broadway Reed 1.

“An exciting and thought provoking ride inside the mind of a potential genius who will achieve this potential if he embraces his true self. Musician or not, we can all relate to this inner questioning of ourselves. Will we be okay if we do exactly what we want with our true talent? A thoroughly inspiring, funny and beautiful read.”

Marc Phaneuf, Broadway woodwind veteran

“This book captured me from the very first sentence and I simply couldn't put it down until I finished it . . . The music came alive . . . Fantastic, highly recommended.”
John Cipolla, Associate Professor of Music, West Kentucky University, and past president of the International Clarinet Association and 

“Scott's new novel is brilliant . . . A fun read and right on point in the ‘real’ world of the professional musician. It's a must read for all, musician or just music lover.”John Moses, New York's leading freelance clarinetist

“Shachter's new novel Outside In  offers an intriguing and brilliant commentary on those within our midst who repel, instruct, reveal, collide with, and even challenge our preconceived notions . . . Outside In  will rip and tug at the readers' emotion, intellect, fear, pathos, while inserting a curious snicker or spirited belly laugh when least expected . . . Scott skillfully instructs us that those we attempt to elude can often become our best teachers whether mystical, maddening, deceased, or spellbound 'gumbo-brains' waiting patiently for the dining room to open.” 
Dennis Anderson, director of the acclaimed New York Saxophone Quartet

"While on tour last summer , I found this book to be a worthy companion. Scott's knowledge of jazz is wonderful and incorporated in an insightful way in this fantasy about a saxophonist looking to leave his mark on the world of music, making a living while trying to keep his integrity intact. What a wild ride. Take it."

--Roger Rosenberg, celebrated jazz baritone saxophonist, with Steely Dan


"Although this could be classified as a "jazz novel", that category might obscure the deeply compelling story that takes place in this book. This novel will make you think differently about the creative impulse and it's relationship to the essence of humanity. Highly recommended!"

--Dan Peck, Tuba, New York City Ballet

“Scott Shachter . . . now pops up with a novel that not only shows his insights into the minds of musicians and show people, but also offers a peak at the follies and absurdities of life as we live it. He paints images of jazz working class musicians like no one else has been able to conjure so completely and in doing so provides a story that is at once hilarious and sensitive . . .Shachter is a fine wordsmith and is able to create form the inside out the strange, almost incredulous world of musicians and the space they inhabit and the characters with whom they cope. It is funny, touching, and really fine writing.”

--Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Amazon reviewer

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