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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book you CAN judge by its cover
Just take a look at that cover for a moment. The image is nothing more provocative than a close-up photo of a buttonhole, perhaps on a pink blouse, from which a button appears recently to have been unbuttoned... but the invitingly open pink slit, in its background of paler nude-pink, also brazenly and self-consciously operates as a visual double-entendre. It's an image...
Published 10 months ago by Rough Diamond

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unrealistic
dissapointed after all the hype on thsi book. yes it keeps your attention but so much of it is unrealistic. would not reccomend if you would like a book with substance
Published 9 months ago by Amy Addison


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book you CAN judge by its cover, 14 Oct 2013
By 
Rough Diamond (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tampa (Paperback)
Just take a look at that cover for a moment. The image is nothing more provocative than a close-up photo of a buttonhole, perhaps on a pink blouse, from which a button appears recently to have been unbuttoned... but the invitingly open pink slit, in its background of paler nude-pink, also brazenly and self-consciously operates as a visual double-entendre. It's an image that renders explicit the (literally) nakedly sexual element within the socially-acceptable flirtatiousness of an unbuttoned pink blouse.

This is how Celeste, Tampa's central figure, operates. She allows her predatory sexual abuse of pubescent boys to hide in plain sight, within the licit scenario of 'pretty young teacher to a class of 14-year-olds'. Celeste is a dangerous woman of exceptionally warped tastes. She savours the feeling of power and control that secuding 14-year-olds gives her, to the extent that sex with under-age boys is the only way she can satisfy the raging demands of her rampant libido. The narrative of 'Tampa' enters Celeste's head with disturbing verve and precision. It invites us to share her excitement and pleasure as she pursues and entraps her prey. The (many, many) sex scenes mostly succeed in being simultaneously erotic and horrifying. Celeste, in her cold manipulation, her cunning, her desire for risk and her airy disassociation from consequence, is a textbook psychopath, and seeing the world through her eyes is a queasy but compelling experience.

Inevitably, consequence soon catches up with Celeste. Her skewed fantasy world crash-lands back into reality, leaving her to face the consequences of her crimes. For me, the ending was the most interesting and disturbing part of the whole novel. Celeste's trial, and its outcome, raise awkward questions about society's hypocrisy towards the victims of rape and sexual abuse, and likewise towards female sexuality. 'Tampa' raises these questions with subtlety but also with deadly aim, by begging (but never directly posing) the question: what if Celsete had been a man and her victims had been girls?

Be warned then: this is a pacy, astringent and morally-demanding novel of ideas, which deals with impossibly difficult issues with intelligence, wit and balance. '50 Shades' thrill-seekers should look elsewhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A minor classic of the new century..., 7 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Tampa (Paperback)
Some of the sentences in this book pop and snap with incredible authority and beauty. OK, she is no Nabokov but that is an utterly irrelevant criticism. Here are some of my favourite moments:

[On overweight joggers:] "Their silhouettes eclipsed my binocular view and I looked up to watch them saunter off, elbows out, rowing through the air like impotent wings. Were there souls left inside these women? It seemed doubtful. The soul had always struck me as being a tricky thing to keep with the body: an easily bored aristocrat with the means to leave whenever it wished."

"His pain seemed like such an internal thing, no different from excrement-- something to be dealt with in private."

As a black comedy this book absolutely succeeds. Some people have criticised it for being a one character study, but I believe this is exactly what Nutting set out to do. Celeste Price is lost in her own solipsistic, desperate insistence that the only thing she has left in her life are pubescent boys. Every other character is flat precisely because this is how she sees them. She dominates the text because she dominates her own mind.

That is not to say she is heroic, but the fun of this book comes from Nutting's dance between our sympathy for the narrator and the clear, hard fact of her psychopathy.

It's a beautifully written book, structurally works (I particularly enjoyed the courtroom climax at the end, and I usually hate being lead in such an obvious way, but Nutting has such wit that you hardly care) and is a memorable, important contemporary feminist text. It reminds me in a way of Charlotte Roche's Wetlands, not in content but in determination and sassy force. In Nutting's words:

"It's not to say anyone should be comfortable with my book, but I think that's why the shock at [the book] is so great, because female sexual agency in general is not fully accepted."

In summary, Tampa made me happy because it was beautiful, and so nice to see a contemporary novelist playing with the same old tools and making something gorgeous out of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but Disturbing Debut, 17 Sep 2013
This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
This was a deeply disturbing book and due to the subject matter I would find it very hard to even recommend to people (in fact, the few people I told what the book was about give me such a look of derision and disgust that I stopped talking about it). With that said however, I found this book to be utterly compelling and very well written.

It is certainly not an easy read, and some of the more graphic sexual scenes do not make for comfortable reading at all considering the age(s) of those involved, but what I found more disturbing than the detailed sexual acts, were the monologues of the protagonist, Celeste. Her thoughts and actions were so predatory and sinister, and I felt more uncomfortable reading these internal thoughts of hers than anything else. Her total lack of compassion and sense of morality just didn't fail to surprise me (her actions directly after the death of Jack's father were particularly disgusting, in my opinion).

Despite the subject matter and how deplorable I personally found the actions of Celeste, I still found this debut novel completely fascinating. It put me completely out of my own comfort zone in terms of reading and literature, but I think this is an area that is not tackled enough and I think Nutting has done a sterling job.

*An advance reader copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, but in all the right ways., 26 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Tampa (Paperback)
Seriously disturbing but littered with dark humour and characters that (whilst not likeable) are extremely interesting.

Read it all in one day...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nasty story but more realistic than you might imagine, 16 Jan 2014
By 
R. Bradford (Wotton-under-Edge, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
I read this a few months ago. It is well written. The issue is the nature of the story. Is it just sensationalist nonsense, or is it exposing an unrevealed truth about our society? Initially I thought the plot rather far fetched and improbable, particularly the cold, calculating manner in which this female teacher plans her campaign of seduction. But I have discovered since that statutory rape of male minors by women is more common than you might think. Whilst virtually no women are prosecuted for this offence in the UK, this is probably because society is in denial about it. In the USA there appears to be an increasing incidence of convictions of women for statutory rape. See for example the web site [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unrealistic, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Tampa (Paperback)
dissapointed after all the hype on thsi book. yes it keeps your attention but so much of it is unrealistic. would not reccomend if you would like a book with substance
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perverse, taboo, iconoclastic, deviant - and uncompromisingly intelligent, 17 July 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
This book should come with a health warning as I can imagine plenty of readers will hate it, will find it sick, perverse and deviant - the narrator undoubtedly is all these things, but the book is a brave and controversial exploration of a female sexual predator and psychopath.

This is an uncompromising portrait of a young female school-teacher, who only finds pre-adolescent schoolboys sexually attractive. Told in Celeste's own voice, this opens with her excitement the night before she starts at a new school, and follows her through a school year as she has an affair with a 14-year old boy...

What makes this book exceptional and which stops it becoming exploitative, even pornographic, is the author's control over the voice and character of Celeste - 24, beautiful, monstrous, obsessive, intelligent, utterly shameless, possibly homicidal, certainly pathological.

And yet, for all her perversity, Celeste has a sharp and barbed wit: in order to keep her husband Ford under control and to avoid having to sleep with him: "I kept a series of pre-crushed Ambien pills inside emptied tea-bags at the back of the pantry where he'd never look. Ford loathed tea; it just wasn't American". And, later, after she manipulates Janet, a terrible teacher, into being on her side: "Janet was far more gregarious this fall; her spring evaluations had risen from `unsatisfactory' up to `below average' and she felt her job was safe again".

This doesn't hold back in sexual terms and Celeste shares her fantasies, solo antics and affair with 14-year old Jack in graphic detail - and it would be coy of the book to avoid the reality of who, and what, Celeste is. Her intelligence and wit make the book readable and stop it descending into something unthinking and purely sensationalist.

This certainly gestures back to Lolita but also other books narrated by a pathological and subversive character. So this is a brave, uncompromising and very provocative debut from Nutting who makes us, as readers, horribly complicit with Celeste.

So of course this is a disturbing book - it's meant to be and has to be given the subject matter - but it's also an intelligent one which I literally couldn't stop reading. We do almost want to read it with our eyes averted and with a cushion handy to hide behind as we just know that this cannot have anything but an unsettling ending.

This is thoughtful literature designed to challenge and confront - just be aware of what you're letting yourself in for when you start reading this book.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's two hours of my life I'm not getting back!, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
I didn't like the book because I found the central character SO unsympathetic. I just couldn't care less what happened to her!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There, I said it., 18 Sep 2013
By 
Lola (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
I finished "Tampa" yesterday and thought about it for a while and I still do not know what to make of it. This is one of those books that people are going to have opinions about (already here, on amazon.co.uk, I can see people getting angry about the book and angrier at people who actually liked the book). I liked the book. There, I said it. Not because of the numerous somewhat sickening descriptions of sex between the main protagonist, gorgeous Celeste, which I suspect (despite never opening the shades of grey books), is more intelligent in its description and narrative than E.L. James could ever master (people complained!). The subject matter is pretty gruesome, the heroine is a sociopath surrounded by a not very likeable (and a lot of the times not fully developed) supporting cast.

The book sets out to get into the head of a sexual predator (and not a male one!) and it successfully achieves its aim. We know what Celeste is like and what her objectives are, and how she is, it seems, not capable of feelings. The book is engaging and interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat (very subtly hinting at the inevitable end).

Alissa Nutting's voice is fresh and colloquial but the narrative weakens towards the conclusion. The ending appears to be written in a hurried manner, as if the author practiced a lot describing the dangerous mind and its works (the book almost feels like a one character study), but did not write convincingly about the inevitable consequences her heroine faced. And what to make of the endless descriptions of sex (bordering on pornography)? At first they were offensive and a bit unsettling, but I found towards the middle of the book I almost did not pay attention to them. I was tired of explicitness of sex scenes which, after a while, failed to shock and did not add anything new to the narrative.

All in all, I found this to be a quick read which aims to entertain and seed thoughts (not every day we are told about a female sexual predator and psychopath, and told intelligently and engagingly, with a pinch of wit), but doesn't purport to be a literary masterwork. It did not call to be compared to Lolita (Penguin Classics) and, even though while reading it I thought of Notes on a Scandal a few times, these are two completely different works telling different things. I find a lot of people keep comparing these three different books - don't!

So there, I read it and enjoyed it (it certainly proved to be a page-turner for me), but you don't have to (I still won't come anywhere near the shades of grey!). Three to four stars.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Climax I Wanted, 8 Aug 2013
This review is from: Tampa (Kindle Edition)
Haven't people got their knickers in a twist over Alissa Nutting's Tampa? I knew it would be a controversial and difficult read before I began, but this book quite took my breath away. And I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing.
I feel I need to address the controversy separately from the book itself so I'll leave the brouhaha til the end.
Tampa is the story of Celeste, the high-maintenance wife of a rich cop who likes pre-pubescent teenage boys. And when I say `like' what I mean is that she has a pathological sexual obsession with them. She trained as an English teacher just so she would be exposed to the possibilities of a relationship with one of her charges, and she quickly picks out her victim. Jack is one of those 14 year olds who still looks like a boy. There are no hints yet of the man he might become and he lacks the maturity to resist his predatory teacher. What follows is Jack's seduction and systematic abuse by a woman who cares for naught but her sexual satisfaction.
Nutting tells Celeste's story in the first person forcing the reader into an uncomfortable intimacy with the story. Celeste is obsessed with sex - so long as it's not with her husband, Ford - and the author describes her acts and fantasies in forensic detail. But far from being titillating or erotic, the sex in this book is cold and emotionless. I found myself praying that Celeste would be caught and put away where she could no longer have access to Jack and his peers, which is why the denouement of the book disappointed me so much.
I have read that Tampa has been likened to a mix of Lolita and American Psycho. Certainly, there is a certain amount of black humour in the book which may remind you of Patrick Bateman, but where the violence in American Psycho largely takes place in Bateman's head, the atrocities in Tampa do happen to Jack. And as for Lolita, Humbert Humbert was portrayed as having some affection for Lolita. Celeste cares only for herself and her own sexual gratification.
Paedophilia is a distressing topic and Tampa is a very difficult read. As a woman, I found a female paedophile especially distressing - aren't we supposed to be the nurturers and care-givers? Celeste's sociopathic selfishness is the antithesis of all we, as a society, expect from women and while I normally like my expectations to be upended by a book, I'm not sure Nutting has done so in a way I enjoyed.
I've given a lot of thought to whether or not any topic should be out of bounds for a writer and I think that any censorship is a bad thing. What matters is how the topic is treated and while Celeste is portrayed as exactly what she is, ultimately her punishment didn't fit her crimes and I was left wanting more.
Would I recommend Tampa to others? Yes, I think so, so long as you go in with your eyes open and are prepared to think about what you've read for several days afterwards.
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Tampa by Alissa Nutting
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