Ohio Author Reinvents Shock

It’s one of those things I can’t help but praise no matter how dirty it makes me feel. Tampa is the debut novel of Ohio author Alissa Nutting, and her prose shines through the dark clouds that hover over the theme of the book. So well written that there where moments where I had to set the book down to breathe and comprehend what I had just read, in addition a multitude of others that caused sudden guilty laughter. 

Following the misadventures of protagonist Celeste Price, Tampa focuses on a first year eighth grade English teacher who sought out the job in education for the sole purpose of having sex with her meticulously selected male students. Her obsession with flawless youth drives her to not only seek out fourteen year old boys, but to pamper herself in such an extreme manner to offset the effects of aging in any way possible. Price is brought to you in first person and is my favorite type of character in that she has no rehabilitating qualities. There is literally zero effort to create empathy for the character as Price is an unapologetic and blatant sociopath. Her willingness to lie and manipulate every person she encounters for the purposes of satisfying her sexual appetite is so utterly disturbing that I felt a gravity pull me in as I binged through this book.

Unconventional and illegal sexual preferences aside, Celeste Price possesses an evil that I haven’t found in a character since Stephen Stelfox.

 

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Irony and the Rolling Stone

Controversy was bound to appear as a misguided attempt to push magazines with the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring Jahar Tsarnaev on the cover. Following the backlash, the magazine stands by their decision to put the most appealing photograph of the surviving Boston Marathon bomber on their cover instead of a music artist, actor, or hell I’d settle for a Kardashian. When one is concerned with only the moving of units, I understand completely why they opted not to have Jay-Z or Willie Nelson (both artists had articles dedicated to them within the issue) gracing the cover. At this point, the top people at Rolling Stone are most likely euphoric in that they’re at least being talked about.

I have a subscription to Rolling Stone and was excited that the controversy had taken to the internet before my copy had arrived in the mail. Since then I’ve heard a number of friends express outright disgust to apathy and I can hardly blame them in holding such opinions. I even had a guest overlook the issue, figuring the shaggy hair covering those pixilated eyes had simply belonged to another singer/songwriter/John Mayer type until I brought it up for the sake of conversation. Seeing as how I’m not one to take the moral high ground, I’ll leave it to Marilyn Manson.

“A lot of people forget or never realize that I started my band as a criticism of these very issues of despair and hypocrisy. The name Marilyn Manson has never celebrated the sad fact that America puts killers on the cover of Time magazine, giving them as much notoriety as our favorite movie stars. From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception, have turned criminals into folk heroes. They just created two new ones when they plastered those dip-shits Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’ pictures on the front of every newspaper. Don’t be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols.”

As an angry kid who got pushed around when Columbine happened, I’ll be the first to admit that I in fact, had two new idols for a short period of time. Maturity would change that, but middle school was a trying time.

I’m reminded of the Columbine shooters getting their pictures on the cover of Time Magazine. I’m reminded of the intimidating images of an armed to the teeth Seung-Hui Cho being plastered everywhere following the massacre at Virgina Tech (from pictures and videos that he shot and personally mailed to NBC with the intent of obtaining such notoriety). I was surprised and relieved to find that the Sandy Hook shooter was only on the cover of tabloids. Marilyn Manson was (and is still) right in that the media glorifies those with the most blood on their hands. The definition of irony rests within the article they published in 1999, and the cover of the current issue. The greatest concern of this particular incident of homicidal glorification is that instead of an otherwise pointless school shooting, the motives behind Jahar’s crimes were that of religious extremism. I personally fear that his sort of behavior coupled with the embrace of the media frenzy will again influence and enable disenfranchised youth with a more extensive list of excuses. ImageImage

Here’s a link to Manson’s article in case you were wanting to read further.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/columbine-whose-fault-is-it-19990624

Vacationing in New York, Reading of Chicago

Just got back from Albany, New York in time to catch the 4th of July fireworks in my home town. Besides learning of my welt inducing allergic reaction to mosquito bites and the occasional airline delay, I must say that the entire trip was a fantastic overflow of comedic warmth, good food, and vodka.

My lady-friend of nearly five years has family residing in upstate New York (Ithaca and Albany). This was the third year in a row that they’ve invited me into their home where I was given better treatment than most boyfriends deserve. While the rain put our outdoor activities on hold, it offered the chance to simply relax and catch up on some historical reading.

It should come as no surprise that I enjoy murder stories with the backdrop of a hotel, and while I did read up on H. H. Holmes and watch a couple of documentaries on his twisted endeavors before writing my novel, I hadn’t yet taken the time to read The Devil in the White City. While I typically enjoy fiction, this historical piece is quite telling of the setting and scenario in which Holmes committed his crimes in his ‘castle’ of a hotel during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The historical context did slow down the reading during the scenes of architectural complications, yet it shed light on numerous pieces of noteworthy cultural relevance. The depth was unlike any visual documentary I’ve stumbled upon and is well worth the read.