Tag Archives: Alissa Nutting

What to Read in July

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting: “Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. Perceptive and compulsively readable, Made for Love is at once an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation marriage, monogamy, and family.”

Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles: “Through a dazzling combination of memoir, history, reporting, visual culture, literature, and theology, Sarah Sentilles offers an impassioned defense of life lived by peace and principle. It is a literary collage with an urgent hope at its core: that art might offer tools for remaking the world.”

Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen: “The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc. What starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an ‘Occupation’—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Scaachi Koul, review the movie Fish Tank, and hear from Omar Robert Hamilton about The City Always Wins.

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That’s What College is For

Tampa

FA review tag

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to bang a teacher.

For as long as I can remember I fantasized about screwing an educator, but every year I was foiled. My teachers were either kindly old lesbians or profusely sweating heavy-set men with tobacco-stained teeth. Excellent educators and wonderful people, all of them, but not a sexual prospect in sight. I didn’t get my first attractive teacher until my last year of grad school. He had a full head of brown hair with a sprinkle of gray at the temples, wore elbow-patch blazers like Indiana Jones and smelled of pine cones and wisdom. I was newly married and not looking to mess that up. I graduated a year later without ever giving a blowjob during office hours.

The teacher is an enduring fantasy, like the librarian or the cheese guy at the deli (that just me?). It is this fantasy that makes us want to read works like Alissa Nutting’s Tampa. As adults who have made their way past AP Algebra, we can see both sides of the equation.

1) Banging a high school teacher would have been the ultimate conquest and made for a shocking story to tell at cocktail parties in my thirties.

2) Banging a high school teacher would have made me the victim of a sexual predator and would have caused irreparable damage to my psychological well-being.

Which witch is which? Nutting’s Tampa, the story of a twenty-six-year-old eighth grade teacher who screws her fourteen-year-old male students, takes us inside the question. Continue reading

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Books that Mattered in 2013: Extraordinary Books by Women

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The last 12 months were crammed with great and celebrated books. The Flamethrowers. Men We Reaped. The Goldfinch. Life After Life. Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The Interestings. Lean In. MaddAddam. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Booker prize winner The Luminaries. Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal. Tampa. Night Film. Bough Down. The Lowland. Speedboat. The Woman Upstairs. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roose­velt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  

If you’re not too busy trying to read them all, you might want to go see the adaptation of Catching Fire in the theater. While you’re out, you may also feel the urge to pick up some Alice Munro following her well-deserved Nobel Prize in Literature.

Then, if you get a chance, you might see if any of the books written by men in 2013 are worth reading.

As we suspected back in August, 2013 was the Year of Women. This year, offerings from Thomas Pynchon, Dave Eggers (both of whom, FYI, wrote books with female protagonists), and even the darling George Saunders we’re overshadowed by the excitement around The Luminaries, by 28-year-old Elanor Catton, or The Flamethrowers, the second novel from Rachel Kushner. Allie Brosh had ’em laughing, and dressing up in costume, at readings of Hyperbole and a Half around the country, and Joyce Carol Oates’ annual novel The Accursed was said by many to be one of her best, or at least one of her strangest. The trend was so strong that J.K. Rowling tried to release The Cuckoo’s Calling under a man’s name, only to be swiftly revealed as her true female self.

Strangely, no one seems to have much noticed The Year of Women, or wagered a guess as to why so much of the interesting and ambitious writing of the past year came from women. We welcome your ideas, but for now we’ll go ahead and take this as a good sign. The books above were never labeled or categorized as “great women’s books” — they’re just great books that people loved. It’s the best rebuke to all the Sad Literary Men and Great Male Narcissists since, well, Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., and has made for an extraordinary year of reading.

See other Books that Mattered in 2013.

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