When I viewed my news feed on Facebook today, I was absolutely delighted to see a 'thank you' from the Chet the Dog page for my review of Spencer Quinn's soon-to-be-released book, 'The Sound and the Furry'. I thank you, Chet the Dog page (and Mr. Quinn); your story was an absolute delight to read and review.
So, my day started off to be a happy one.
But I've been saddled with a dilemma. I just finished reading the new book, 'Tampa', by Alissa Nutting, and while I love her style and voice, I felt more than a bit uncomfortable with the whole premise.
I'll be frank: It's about a female eighth grade English teacher who harbors a sexual obsession for fourteen-year-old boys.
Celeste Price has it all: Beauty, a rich husband, a great teaching career, and a red Corvette. But her one weakness is fourteen-year-old boys, and she goes after them like a shark hunting prey. She's meticulous and smart, and in a few weeks into the new school year, she's found her latest victim. Sweet, quiet Jack Patrick is in awe of his new teacher, while Celeste celebrates his naiveté. When he finally learns that she wants him in the most sexual way, he agrees to keep quiet about their affair. But despite the fact that Celeste is a swift thinker and an insatiable lover, something trips her up. And it isn't good.
'Tampa' will most certainly become the latest controversial novel of this publishing season (think 'Lolita') due to it's uncomfortable subject matter. And while I felt a great distaste for the character of Celeste, I loved Nutting's style. Good writing and truthiness (thanks, Stephen Colbert) should make a reader feel uncomfortable until we can relate to the subject matter, but this one... Not for me.
I hope that Ms. Nutting goes on to write a story that won't leave such a bad taste in my mouth. Teachers are supposed to be trusted, and when I read even a fictional account about a predatory instructor, I feel as if I have to wash out my eyes.
But I'll still be a fan, Alissa. I just hope your next novel doesn't make me cringe.
'Tampa' by Alissa Nutting, is available at your local bookstore and library.