Karen Valby
July 19, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Tampa

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Alissa Nutting
publisher
Ecco Press
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

“Caution: Explicit Content” warns a feverish cover stamp on the review copy of Nutting’s debut novel Tampa. And the first chapter is indeed a relentlessly graphic description of the masturbatory rituals of 26-year-old Celeste — a sociopathic viper who preys on 14-year-old boys — as she prepares for her first day teaching eighth grade. Some may be offended by the sexually vivid prose. This reader worried more about boredom. But despite a disappointing climax (sorry), the writing is often excellent, hilariously dark, and mean. While spying on a future conquest, Celeste cringes as a suburban woman jogs past her car: “She had the haunted look of someone who’s come from a dire place and was on her way to an even worse destination to deliver awful news.” Celeste is horrible. Reading about her was honestly disturbing and fun. B

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