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I think this is one of those books you hate to love, because this is me confessing that I loved a book full of pedophilia by an author who couldn't go a page without making me cringe and have the overwhelming urge to take a shower to wash off all of the grotesque and disturbing images forced upon my brain. But this is an amazing book. Tampa is superbly written and riveting: I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours. Yes, the story is most obviously about Celeste's (the main character and narrator) obsession with young boys, but Nutting's observations about the objectivity of female beauty and the socially unacceptable longings that present themselves in the most brutal of ways are the themes that really got to me. I won't be recommending this book to my mom anytime in the near future, but I will recommend it to anyone who wants to be thrown from their comfort zone into a world that is very much disturbingly real, although most of us go through our lives blissfully unaware of its atrocities.— From Claire
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.
Alissa Nutting is an assistant professor of English at Grinnell College. She is the author of the story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, as well as the novel Tampa.