Monday, October 7, 2013

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

TampaTampa by Alissa Nutting

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two words: disturbing and uncomfortable. Identifying with a protagonist is not necessary when the reading is so compelling. Reading this, I immediately wanted out of Celeste’s head. But, again, her is a compelling voice. It’s in how she views others, herself in particular that left me in need of something cleansing after.

Tools. Everyone and everything, here are means to be used.  There is no contrition, not much self- doubt about who she is and what she wants (more on that later) So hers is a story of a predator. And theirs isn’t one of love. There are no romantic notions in the scarily systematic fashion that things are done; or in how completely self-aware she is (“It’s just what I want.”)

Everything is viewed one way: tools. Body and her beauty are means and she fashions them thus. There’s nothing apologetic about how she goes about things. She knows, needs… and systematically goes about seeing its satisfaction. It’s that absence of remorse that troubled me first. The way she sees these kids: tools yet, again… things to get things done. Even the way she views her husband: a reverse trophy-figure. Pretty and all, but doing nothing for her; he and another are emasculated into something to get around/over/passed toward what she wants. It’s this aspect that gets you thinking, contrasting the typical gendered views of whom to avoid and who’s capable of setting off alarms.

It’s the language used that’s another remarkable. Easily, it’s a tool as well. Purposefully gross, with nothing held back. Each fantasy that’s allowed reality is what takes out any possible notion of romantic, so that there is no stepping back. It’s simply about what she needs and why and how to get things done. 

So there’s how she sees others (oldly gross, completely malleable, and even more easily manipulated,) everything is a means to what satisfies. That’s what’s icky. It’s not needlessly graphic either, each fantasy makes it clear it’s not about romancing anyone. But what’s even more troubling is its honesty; it isn’t about love at all. It’s a need that’s given little sense. Her ease with it, that basic acceptance of hers negated possibilities of redemption (none is sought or granted here). Things just are. And Isn’t that simply scary? 

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