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Tampaby Alissa Nutting
Nutting's pedophile novel is cringe-inducing in its subject matter but somehow seductive like a modern-day Lolita. Sometimes it was laugh-out-loud funny and way more graphic than I expected. This book will get talked about and make many folks uncomfortable for a long time. But Nutting is a firecracker of a writer and truly turns risky writing into an art form here.
This blistering excavation of the mind of a pedophile is absolutely riveting. Celeste Price becomes a teacher and carefully arranges her life in order to continuously have a fresh supply of young boys on hand. Her entire life revolves around her anticipatory, and then eventual, conquests, and her introspection never once goes beyond her insatiable libido.
Her stunning physical beauty seems to deflect the accusations that are eventually directed her way, and Tampa morphs into a damning commentary on the worth of females based solely on their appearance. She can't possibly be that beautiful and be "bad," can she? Nutting somehow manages to make sure that her readers are both attracted to, and repulsed by, Celeste, and provides one hell of a wild ride. Excellent!
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"In Nutting's graphic first novel (after her story collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls), soon-to-be eighth-grade English teacher Celeste Price can barely contain her excitement about her adolescent boys; the 26-year-old passes the night 'in an excited loop of hushed masturbation' while her good-looking but dull-witted husband slumbers. Celeste's mind is as pragmatic as her body is luscious, and her patience ('I had to regard the students like a delicate art exhibit and stay six feet away at all times, lest I be tempted to touch') pays off. Before long, she coaxes shy Jack into what becomes the first of many liaisons. Unlike American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, Celeste is aware of her depravity — she fears that were she to work as a model, as some suggest, photos would capture 'a soulless pervert' — but she indulges anyway. Her bold choice of meeting Jack at his house after school leads to unsurprising complications, as does the boy's budding love. When Celeste's usual caution erodes, all might be lost were this young woman not lover and fighter both. Nutting's work creates a solid impression of Celeste's psychopathic nature but, unlike the much richer Lolita, leaves the reader feeling empty. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A highly diverting read....Ms. Nutting lands it.” New York Times
“Impeccably written, full of smart cultural observations, and no small amount of wit....A very bold book.” Daily Beast
“The writing is often excellent, hilariously dark, and mean….Reading about [Celeste] was honestly disturbing and fun.” Entertainment Weekly
"It's as riveting as it is disturbing.” NewYorkmagazine.com's Vulture
“In this sly and salacious work, Nutting forces us to take a long, unflinching look at a deeply disturbed mind, and more significantly, at society's often troubling relationship with female beauty.” San Francisco Chronicle
“A work of serious ambition, both literary and moral. Its also laced with dark, sometimes savage humor and juicy riffs on consumer culture and its twin obsessions, youth and beauty.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Tampa is one of the most shocking books I have read; its also one of the most mesmerizing and surprising. Alissa Nutting has written a stunning, brutal book.” Shelf Awareness
“A deliriously enjoyable, absolutely shocking book — a morality tale that tempts and taunts readers to succumb to every kind of immorality.” BOMB
“Smart and biting.” New York Journal of Books
“A brilliant commentary on sex and society.” Cosmopolitan
“Tampa takes on a very serious and disturbing subject with such flair and dark humor and bawdy sexual energy that Nutting is sure to become a member in the small club of authors who turns risky writing into high art.” Tin House
Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She's undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.
But Celeste's devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession — fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.
In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste's terms for a secret relationship — car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack's house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste's empty classroom between periods.
Ever mindful of the danger — the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack's father's own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind — the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.
With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.
About the Author
Alissa Nutting is an assistant professor of creative writing at John Carroll University. She is the author of the award-winning collection of stories Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. Her work has appeared in the New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Tin House; Fence; and Bomb, among other venues. This is her first novel. She lives in Ohio.
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