Tampa, the latest and most controversial literary debut by Alissa Nutting has been causing a commotion since it was released earlier this month. Nutting has produced a literary work which touches on what can only be described as a taboo subject, exploring a student-teacher relationship which will surely cause a flurry of both positive and negative comments from many readers.
Central protagonist Celeste is a perverse, predatory and sexually frustrated 26 year old woman seeking a teenage boy to seduce. In order to make this happen, she takes on the post of an English teacher, embarking on a personal mission to find the male, pubescent target who will gratify her increasingly demanding sexual needs. Laden with overtly sexual content and graphic images, Tampa is thought-provoking, disturbing and yet extremely fascinating.
Harper Collins has published a preview edition on their website – a great tactic that will see sales of Tampa rising as readers flock to their website to read the three chapters which frankly, leave you questing whether you are sane or insane to be reading and/or enjoying this book.
Unashamedly, I read the preview edition online after reading many articles informing me of the increasing hype over the book. Completely intrigued that a novelist had decided to tread on such dangerous ground, Nutting’s bold and brave approach to a novel had me excited for the first time in a long while – it’s not often that a book cover depicts the opening of a vaginal hole and discusses very openly the thoughts of an unstable, female sociopath who goes out of her way to attract the attention of young teenage boys.
Reading the three chapters left me amused, horrified and completely hooked. Inspired by a real incident which impacted Nutting’s life, this book is definitely different. Written cleverly in a witty and bizarre tone, Nutting has created a protagonist who both repels and attracts readers, and definitely made me think I was pretty unstable myself for wanting to know what would happen next. With black humour and sexually explicit language and imagery throughout, Tampa is a ground-breaking novel which I’m probably going to buy and finish, as Harper Collin’s tactic of revealing three gripping chapters has left me wanting to discover the rest of Celeste’s disturbing journey.
For anyone who is interested in reading Tampa, here is the link to the preview edition that I’m sure many readers are secretly visiting:
Breaking boundaries which authors have tried to steer clear of in the past, Nutting has proved that novelists are (slowly but surely) gaining the confidence to explore subjects we would otherwise brush under the carpet. I can’t wait to finish this brilliantly written weird novel.