Tampa, the new novel from Alissa Nutting, has already been banned in a number of bookstores due to its “graphic sexual content.” Even its cover is controversial, seeming to depict a stylized illustration of a vagina.
It tells the story of a 26-year-old female teacher who has a thing for 14-year-old boys. It says that she only chose to be a teacher in order to have access to an unlimited supply of them. The novel contains many sexual scenes of seduction.
Even Cosmopolitan Magazine, known for its usually relaxed approach to matters sexual, has condemned the work as “twisted”and calls it: “the sickest, most controversial book of the summer.” And the author admits that she won’t even let her own (Catholic) parents read the book.
She explained to The Times newspaper that the purpose of the book was to shock. This was in order to focus attention on the different standards applied to male and female teachers facing similar situations with pupils. For example male teachers indiscretions were greeted with a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, what a lucky boy.” But, if the victim is male, it’s explained away by a mixture of “raging hormone” and seeking the teacher’s attention.
She quotes the recent case of Jeremy Forrest, who was jailed for running away with his 15-year old pupil. And she claims there have been many cases of female teachers seducing boys, but they do not receive the same degree of publicity. That is the whole point of the book which she explains away as satire.
She says: “Portions of the book will shock and should shock. That’s what’s missing from these cases.
We eroticise the (female) teacher, fetishise them, use them for our own arousal. I’d like to guide the reader into understanding how uncomfortable and upsetting that tendency is.”
Nutting’s was inspired to write the book following the case of Debra Lafave in Florida in 2005. She pleaded guilty to having sex with her 14-year-old male pupil. Nutting felt the media coverage was unbalanced, since it emphasized the fact that Lafave was an attractive blonde, and often showed her in a bikini. The implication was not that the boy had been abused, but rather that he “just got lucky.”
Whether Alissa Nutting will be able to emulate the success of 50 Shades of Grey will depend upon the public appetite for even more explicit sex.
Photo Credit:the times,co.uk