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Tampa: A Novel Paperback – March 4, 2014
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“...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)
“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)
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I was a little unsure about this book because of the very explicit nature of the fantasies this teacher has about 14yr old boys, but it really ended up being worth the read. The underlying implications about our society and what you can get away with if you're considered attractive enough or have enough money are really worth the thought. At the end of this book, I really did begin to wonder.. if Celeste were a real person, how much could she get away? Would anyone actually ever notice or care to notice her proclivities towards the young men she's been asked to educate..? If they did notice, would it be glazed over because she's a woman, an attractive one, and these are young men with growing sexual appetites (instead of a headline that would be made if it were a man with 14yr old girls)..?
Point being, it is a thought provoking, well written, interesting and entertaining book. Well done.
Yeah, this is one of those polarizing books. It asks the uncomfortable question "If a gorgeous 26 year old teacher wants to bed a very willing 14 year old student of hers, is it really rape?" A wise man once wrote "the best villain is the one who thinks he's the hero" and Celeste definitely thinks she's in the right.
The book is written in a funny, vulgar style, so much so that you forget you're reading about a sociopathic child predator at times. The style reminds me of a more humorous, more vulgar Megan Abbott. The plot, however, is a sexuallized reverse Lolita, I guess. Celeste pursues and persuades a boy into a sexual relationship with her and they furiously bump uglies until the train gets derailed. A couple derailments, in fact. In some ways, it reminds me of a Jim Thompson book. You can tell how abnormal Celeste is and know it's only a matter of time before everything goes to several shades of hell.
The book made me feel dirtier than the floor of a movie theater but it was compulsively readable. It simultaneously made me wish I had a Playboy centerfold for a teacher in eighth grade and made me glad I didn't.
Uncomfortable but readable is my final feeling on the book. It was a gripping read and I'll be interested to read whatever Alissa Nutting writes next. Four out of five stars.
Based somewhat on real events, Tampa tells us the story of the aptly name Celeste, an eighth grade teacher obsessed with her underage male students.
It's dark, it's very graphic. It's hard to read, it's short but will feel much longer. There are sense that are hard to get through. Nothing does not pull punches here at all. The POV she chose will not allow it. From the moment you start this book you are in the head of a psychopath as she hunts her prey.
This is Lolita without the flowery beautiful prose. This is pure and raw. A female pedophile, whose thoughts must be on par with any male pedophile, reminds us that safety for us and or children is only an illusion.
I don't understand how anyone could give this book a negative review, if they chose to read it after seeing the blurb. I think those reviews say much more about their writers than about the book. If you can stomach the subject, this is an amazing read.