Tampa

Tampa

3.2 33
by Alissa Nutting
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
Marilyn Dahl
“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.”
—New York Times
“...A highly diverting read...Ms. Nutting lands it.”
—Daily Beast
“Impeccably written, full of smart cultural observations, and no small amount of wit...A very bold book.”
—Entertainment Weekly
“The writing is often excellent, hilariously dark, and mean…Reading about [Celeste] was honestly disturbing and fun.”
—NewYorkmagazine.com's Vulture
It’s as riveting as it is disturbing.”
—Salon
“Completely entertaining.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“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.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“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.”
—Shelf Awareness
“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.”
—BOMB
“A deliriously enjoyable, absolutely shocking book—a morality tale that tempts and taunts readers to succumb to every kind of immorality.”
—TIME
“Gutsy.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Smart and biting.”
—Cosmopolitan
“A brilliant commentary on sex and society.”
—Tin House
“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.”
—MSN Entertainment
“Bold and fascinatingly transgressive…Tampa may be the new American Psycho.”
Kirkus Reviews
A middle school teacher in Tampa, Fla., goes to outrageous lengths to hide her voracious sexual appetite for adolescent boys. Nutting certainly brought dark overtones to her story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (2010), but even that auspicious debut pales next to the unclean psyche at the heart of her first novel. In a story that makes Nicholson Baker's work look hygienic by comparison, Nutting unleashes a devious temptress whose acts of deception are as all-consuming as her incessant masturbatory frenzy. Our narrator, Celeste Price, looks absolutely harmless on the surface. She's married to a rich suburban police officer, drives a hot car, and her looks could cause car wrecks. Unfortunately for her, Celeste is also deeply, unfixably broken. She says that the loss of her virginity at age 14 imprinted on her, and she has been working unceasingly as a student teacher to get to the mother lode: a gig as a full-time teacher of eighth-grade boys. In her first year, she obsesses over her chosen target, young Jack Patrick, on whom she ruminates in the most illustrative fashion. "Something in his chin-length blond hair, in the diminutive leanness of his chest, refined for me just what it was about the particular subset of this age group that I found entrancing," Celeste confesses. "He was at the very last link of androgyny that puberty would permit him: undeniably male but not man." Once she convinces Jack to give in, Celeste performs every salacious, graphic sexual act under the sun--almost as if she is committing these brazen acts on him and not with him. She even starts sleeping with her lover's father just to cover her tracks. For decades, transgressive fiction has traditionally been grim, male and graphic. For those few voices asking why there aren't more women working in this swamp, this one's for you. A taxing attempt to penetrate the mind of female child molesters with grimy, mundane results.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062280541
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
796,204
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet 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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