Thursday, August 22, 2013


Alissa Nutting

Ecco, 2013

26-year-old Celeste Price is the owner of the doll looks and a mind of a sex predator. She is married to a rich cop because of money, but she does not become a passive housewife, cooking dinner for husband every day, but found work as an English teacher in school. Celeste is looking forward to the start of the school year, when she will be able to start teaching at the eighth grade. School for Celeste means that she will be close to the 14-year-olds - the object of her desire. Sexual desires of the young teacher are reduced exclusively to young bodies. A 14-year-old boy had not yet grown up to become a man, but is able to satisfy an insatiable woman like Celeste.

Celeste teaches, barely holding back the desire during the class, so after class she has to immediately masturbate as an auditorium still has a smell of young bodies. The narrator is a good teacher, but the school is only a means for her. Being a good teacher just means being employed, and therefore she can continue to have access to teenage bodies. Predator with a perfect face and body, however, she is very careful: she selects a victim of only one young man, shy Jack. Once have choosen him as a lover (if the definition is appropriate), Celeste several times watches Jack out of her car, parked outside of the Jack’s house, where he lives with his father.

«Focusing the binoculars, I gleaned what I could through windows. Many of the blinds were closed, but the square of frosted glass on the home's left side told me the location of a downstairs bathroom. The living room's light was on, though its couch appeared unoccupied-perhaps Jack was home alone? I didn't know him well enough yet to risk knocking on the door and saying hello; if he reacted badly or questions were raised the wrong way, it would blow everything-although he was the clear standout of his classmates, I reminded myself that he could still prove to be a dead end. It wasn't worth it to do anything risky. There was a flash of light in one of the back windows and I focused in further, suddenly letting out a long sigh of gratitude at my luck: there he was sitting in front of a television, low to the ground in a beanbag chair-another bright flash confirmed it was him. His alert posture and proximity to the TV suggested he was playing a video game rather than watching a program. I tried to zoom in further, but the lenses were already at maximum view.

Although a passerby would have had to press his nose fully against my car's tinted window in order to see inside, masturbating in public with no cover seemed inelegant. I grabbed the towel, unfolding it across my lap as though I were about to eat a personal picnic, then slid down my running shorts beneath it. Unsticking my legs from the seat, I expertly opened them into position-since they would immediately bond with the hot leather of the car's seat and fix themselves in place, it was important that my orgasm wouldn't require any thigh movement. It took me just a moment to perfectly balance the binoculars in my left hand and steady the vibrator in my right. But just as I was about to begin, I heard voices; looking up from the binoculars I saw two power-walking women turn the corner, swinging hand weights.»

Soon Celeste advances from innocent flirting with a young man to the sex games. Shy Jack gradually loosens up, looking forward to almost daily meetings with the teacher. The place of comfort couple chooses for its games is Jack's house - the boy's father is always working at day, and Celeste and Jack has plenty of time to have sophisticated sex.

Alissa Nutting has written a provocative novel, full of the detailed descriptions of sex with teenagers. Without them, perhaps, it would be impossible to write it, the degree of obsession of the protagonist would not be easy to realize. The novel certainly has undergone numerous accusations, still, because the book is about the teacher-pedophile. There is nothing frightening in this: we've already read books written in the first person about hired killers, pimps, gangsters, terrorists etc. Surely there is a place in literature for pedophile as well. (The word "pedophile", though, is mentioned only closer to the ending of the novel.)

Generally, Tampa can be considered as neo-noir. The heroine is doomed to an unenviable fate from the start, and holding one’s breath, one can only watch as Celeste will make mistakes. The novel could easily have been published in some softcore paperback series in the sixties, if the author to lower the tone to an acceptable in descriptions of sex and to change the ending a little bit.

The novel is written in first person, so the reader can be better able to immerse himself into the consciousness of a sex predator. Wherever she would be, her thoughts are just about young bodies. The phrase "thinking with your genitals" is just about Celeste. Do not look for the causes of the behavior of the protagonist: Nutting focuses on the here and now. Celeste just remained forever a little girl who liked the sex with her peers. That is why the finalу disappointes at first, but, if you think longer, looks quite fair after all. The worst punishment for such a predator is her own body that will age over time.

Behind the controversial theme is hidden brilliantly written prose, which, however, will not leave anyone indifferent.

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