Sunday, 22 June 2014

Book #20 Tampa by Alissa Nutting


I bought Tampa by accident on a buy one get one half price - I didn't read the back cover and had literally no idea what it was about. I started it on the train and was in minutes mortified both by what I was reading and that anyone I knew should see me reading it!

Tampa is without a doubt one of the most controversial and shocking novels I've ever come across - it is also by far and away the filthiest, and I have read The Fifty Shades Trilogy. If you are easily offended, I do not recommend this book.

For my part I found it genuinely disturbing but it is tremendously well written with that.

I have never read Nabokov's Lolita but I have some idea what happens in it, and Tampa is a similar novel with a woman at the centre. I have never read a book about a paedophile before and certainly have never read much of any kind about the female sex offender. 

What struck me as I read this book is the number of times cases both in this country and in the USA have emerged of teachers having relationships with underage pupils. Are these men and women in love as they profess to be with their young charges or are they simply perverted predators?

Alissa Nutting quickly dispenses with the idea that her protagonist Celeste Price is anything more or less than a paedophile who is only interested specifically in fourteen year old boys, and is not interested in long term relationships with them or any relationship extending beyond them hitting puberty proper.

Written as a first person narrative Celeste Price is clearly delusional and a sociopath with literally no interest in anything beyond sexual gratification and not being caught.

This book was a very intense, often uncomfortable experience but as a piece of original and unique creative writing is also worth reading. In her review for the Times Helen Rumbelow says "by the time I got to the end I was traumatised and in awe" and I can only echo that I think. Dazed and Confused also called it "truly dangerous fiction".

Because it made me uncomfortable as it would I think any normal person I would hesitate to recommend it, however, though I was reminded at some points slightly of Notes On A Scandal, there is no book like this, you will never read a book like this unless you read this one. The other questionable thing about Tampa I suppose is that if this protagonist or this author were male - this book might well have been banned, which leads to an interesting debate.

For that  a 9/10 verdict with a warning that it is utter unrelenting filth, and from the point of view of both parents and teachers pretty scary filth at that.     


1 comment:

  1. It was well written. It was disturbing, especially in the “I probably shouldn’t like this. Maybe I should. I don’t know! There’s way too much grey area here… but I do like it!” kind of way. And just to clarify, this is a good book. I don’t condone Celeste’s behavior, whether male or female, so it makes it somewhat strange to enjoy about something I am so against. Weird, I tell you! By the end of the book, I was slightly disappointed. I’m not sure exactly how I wanted it to end, but it certainly wasn’t like it did. I suppose, though, that the ending was, unfortunately, pretty realistic.
    Landscape Architect Seattle website