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Tampa Hardcover – July 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

On the surface, 26-year-old Celeste Price seems to have it all. She’s stunningly beautiful, married to a handsome police officer from a wealthy family, and about to start a new job as a junior-high teacher. But Celeste is harboring a dark secret: she is driven by a sexual obsession with prepubescent teenage boys. Her new job allows her unrestricted access to the objects of her lust, and she soon settles on one—14-year-old Jack Patrick, a quiet, thoughtful boy in her third-period class. Celeste stalks Jack and discovers he lives alone with his father before making her move on the boy in her classroom. Her seduction of Jack is successful, and Celeste and the boy are soon engaging in steamy trysts wherever and whenever they can manage them. Though Celeste is able to keep her dim-witted husband at bay, she is thrown a curveball when Jack’s father, Buck, expresses interest in her. A chilling examination of a sociopath whose beautiful face masks her pathology, Nutting’s debut is taut, sexually explicit, and utterly engrossing. --Kristine Huntley


“...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.” (—'s Vulture)

“Completely entertaining.” (—Salon)

“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. It’s 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; it’s 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)

“Gutsy.” (—TIME)

“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)

“Bold and fascinatingly transgressive…Tampa may be the new American Psycho.” (—MSN Entertainment)

“TAMPA is one of the most shocking books I have read; it’s also one of the most mesmerizing and surprising. I expected to be disturbed, even appalled; what I did not expect in this story of a female teacher fixated on 14-year-old boys was lyricism and black humor.” (Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062280546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062280541
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alissa Nutting's debut novel, Tampa, will be published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2013. She is author of the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (Starcherone/Dzanc 2010), which won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction judged by Ben Marcus. Her fiction has or will appear in publications such as The Norton Introduction to Literature, Tin House, Bomb, and Conduit; her essays have appeared in Fence, the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, and other venues. An assistant professor of creative writing and English literature at John Carroll University, she lives in Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and two spoiled tiny dogs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Miss Bonnie on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'The rage of lust was like an IV drip in my veins; I felt it beginning to spread inside me with the helpless awareness of someone realizing she's been slipped a drug.'

Celeste has the intensity of a psychopath or even a serial killer when it comes to her sexual obsessions. The desperation in doing whatever it takes to satisfy her need was disturbing to say the least. Her complete disregard for how her actions would affect others in her life was unsettling. Celeste is hands down one of the most warped characters in literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Comparisons to Lolita cannot be helped (although it could also be compared to Belinda by Anne Rampling, one of Anne Rice's lesser known novels written under a pseudonym), despite the fact it's actually quite different it still manages to touch upon the same subject. Unlike Lolita, this is not a retelling of events or even a confession but a first person accounting of the main characters sexual forays. But be warned, Celeste makes Humbert Humbert look tame in comparison. Nabokov wrote a truly lyrical story that managed to win over many readers despite Humbert's wrongs; he became one to be pitied. Nutting has done the opposite with her character Celeste and does not ever intend for you to pity her or feel sorry for her affliction. She's extremely lewd and vulgar and the pages reek with indecency and she's not ashamed to admit it.

'I found that sometimes it was a relief to do something unattractive in private, to confirm that I'm deeply flawed when so many others imagine me to be perfect.'

She found anyone that had begun to show signs that adolescence was leaving them to be completely foul and disgusting and was utterly envious of the female children of her class.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Russell on October 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Celeste Price is a true monster. A complete sociopath. Let's get that out there right away. No one is going to condone her thoughts or behavior in this book, but that's not what it's about. Alissa Nutting seems to have set out to create a complete portrait of a sociopath, and she did an excellent job. On characterization, it's hard to argue that she did anything about a terrific job. For those who argue there was no character development, I don't think that's true at all. The character of Jack grew and changed throughout the book. I found him to be a very realistic portrayal of a teenage boy in that circumstance. I will concede the other characters were not particularly well-drawn, but I think that is all part of the creation of the character of Celeste. She is the star of her own drama. None of those other people--her husband, Janet, Buck--were ever anything more than cardboard cut-outs to her. Celeste is the ultimate unreliable narrator. And Celeste has no character growth because she's a sociopath, she's not capable of it. The novel was wittily-written and vividly defined. I do think it's hypocritical that Amazon sells this out in the open, a book with vividly described sex with a 14-year-old boy, while they constantly and arbitrarily restrict access to titles other titles with sexual content in their Romance and Erotica sections, but that has nothing to do with this book. I could not give it 5 stars because some a couple gaping plot holes and a huge factual error that drove me crazy every time I encountered it: Corvettes do NOT have backseats! I find it hard to believe that no one who beta read or edited this book has been close enough to a Corvette to know that, so it's pretty shocking to me that this slipped through considering how much of the action takes place in that very car. It pulled me right out of the story every time it happened.
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105 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Bibanon1 VINE VOICE on July 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I think Nutting was trying really hard to create a character in the tradition of Patrick Bateman but, instead, she created a ridiculous caricature. This subject matter has been handled much more successfully in books such as WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? by Zoe Heller, KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD by Rebecca Coleman, and even LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov. Heller and Coleman gave their characters depth and complexity. Nutting's character was a cardboard cutout. Not only was she unbelievable but readers must have a huge suspension of disbelief to believe that not one single person saw any signs into the true nature of her character. As I worked my way through the story, I found that it got incredibly tedious. While the subject matter is certainly distasteful and disturbing, I think Nutting relied too heavily on shock value to give her book any impact.

I think many people who enjoyed this book were probably drawn in by what they saw as the author's clever handling of a difficult subject. However, these same people may not have encountered this same subject matter handled much more deftly in other books. My issue is not a knee-jerk reaction to the subject matter but more a reaction to what I think is inadequate writing. I simply don't believe you should be given kudos just because you chose a controversial topic.

Overall, a pretty disappointing offering.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on July 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Initially I was skeptical of this book: a female middle school teacher sexually attracted to her students who uses their vulnerabilities to engage in sexual relationships with them. How could a female pedophile be the lead character? How could she be sympathetic? Seeing the world through the eyes of this horrific character come to life through the author's amazingly powerful descriptions. I still don't like Celeste Price, but I don't at all regret the time I spent with her. I will be looking forward to other great novels from a terrific up and coming writer. Thanks, Ms. Nutting!
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