Saturday, July 27, 2013


alissa nutting
published 2013

In Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa, Celeste Price, a smoldering 26-year-old middle-school teacher in Florida, unrepentantly recounts her elaborate and sociopathically determined seduction of a 14-year-old student.

Celeste has chosen and lured the charmingly modest Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his eighth-grade teacher, and, most importantly, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after dark, rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works the late shift, and body-slamming erotic encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress of pure motivation. She deceives everyone, is close to no one, and cares little for anything but her pleasure.

Tampa is a sexually explicit, virtuosically satirical, American Psycho–esque rendering of a monstrously misplaced but undeterrable desire. Laced with black humor and crackling sexualized prose, Alissa Nutting’s Tampa is a grand, seriocomic examination of the want behind student / teacher affairs and a scorching literary debut.

Whoa.  Just whoa.  I haven't really read a book where I hardly cared for any character, especially not the main character.

First of all, yes the book is centered around sex.  Is it sexually explicit?  Yes.  Is it overly so?  No.  I don't think Alissa Nutting goes too far.  I don't think that this is, what I've read some people call, a thinly disguised porn.  It was absolutely not a turn on.  It was revolting and it's supposed to be revolting.

There is nothing redeemable in Celeste.  She's shallow, deceitful, predatory and selfish.  She's a pedophile plain and simple.  But at the same time, I didn't feel sorry for her husband.  And maybe that's because the story is told in Celeste's words so we're colored in that grossness, but I'm not sure there was anything that great about him either.

Jack.  I felt awful for Jack.  I read one reviewer write that they didn't feel sorry for any of Celeste's victims because they all knew what they were getting into, but Jack.  I don't think he signed up for this.  It was just so warped and dark and all I could see was the wasted life in front of him.

Nutting writes very well.  The pages flew by for me, I was sucked right into the this horrid world.  The only thing I wish she had gone into more was why Celeste was the way she was.  I can't imagine losing her virginity is what caused her to lust after middle school kids.

 I never expected things to go the way they went.  I wanted her caught, I wanted justice for the people she had hurt, but I'm not sure if that's what happened.  But it was a good read.  Not something I would have normally read, but sometimes it's good to step out of your comfort zone and if you're looking to do that Tampa is waaaaay out of anyone's comfort zone.

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