Tampa, by Alissa Nutting
This book is not for everyone. It’s a horror movie in print. Because it’s written from the perspective of a child molester, no doubt some compare it to Lolita. But where Nabokov humanizes his hebephilic protagonist, creating a complex saga of twisted, miserable love, Tampa is the straightforward confessional of a monster. Love’s got nothing to do with it. The novel’s narrator, Celeste, is vicious, unhinged, unrepentant, and sociopathic, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she single-mindedly manipulated her world to satisfy her criminal tastes.
Much of my delight was in relishing Nutting’s fiendish skill. Almost like a short story, the novel keeps a tight frame on the key conflict. Nutting has a lively vocabulary and strong pacing. Plus, I enjoy a writer who unabashedly produces filth. Human beings have always had a fascination with smut and crime, as plenty of popular culture will attest to. Since I have a healthy appetite for filth myself, I had a good time wallowing in Nutting’s gutter, temporarily immune to taboos or self-consciousness.
Then there’s the killer ending. I often don’t like or can’t remember how novels end, but Nutting devised the perfect paragraph to sear her work shut. Overall, if you like wading through humanity’s muck, Tampa is a quick, high-energy route to take.
The 215 in 2015 series chronicles every book I read in 2015. Each review contains exactly 215 words, because 2015 words is too long and 2015 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2015.
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