Tampa by Alissa Nutting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I knew going into reading this book that it would be an uncomfortable read - one that certainly wouldn't be enjoyable in any way. I was fairly sure that I knew exactly what I'd be walking into with this book. But, I have to say that I was still completely and utterly shocked by what I read. Which I think is partly the genius of this novel - how it gets in your head, making you think about things in new ways. I really liked the way that Nutting uses this novel as an exploration of female predatory behavior. It certainly made me think about it in a new way. This novel helped me begin to think through how we view male predators in our culture versus how we view female predators.
This is a really well written novel. Alissa Nutting is obviously a talented writer. She has created one of the most horrifying and captivating narrators that I can recall in all of my years as a reader. Being in her head for the duration of the book is one of the most difficult reading experiences that I've had. The descriptions of sex are jarring and unsettling. The narrative is engaging when it should make the reader want to run screaming. And that is the genius of Alissa Nutting's writing! To make me want to keep reading despite the disturbing content. I cannot say enough how effectively Nutting puts the reader inside the head of this woman, this sexual predator. There is no holding back of anything - the reader gets all entwined in her every thought, fantasy, and compulsion. You are taken deep into her darkest thoughts and its as disturbing as anything I've ever read.
This book is definitely not for everyone. If you're offended by sexual content, then this is not going to be a book that you should read. It's raw and dark and extremely disturbing. I tend to be very open minded and not particularly disturbed by much content and I found myself taken aback while reading this novel. But, in the end, I'm glad that I read it. It has definitely given me a new framework from which to think about sexual predators and how our society tends to view them. I found this novel to be absorbing, disturbing and thought provoking. I suspect this novel will disgust many readers and get quite a bit of criticism from some corners. But, those who are able to get beyond the difficult content may find themselves surprised at how effectively Alissa Nutting brings the reader to think about the intersection of sexual predators, the media and gender roles.
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