In Nutting’s graphic first novel (after her story collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls), soon-to-be eighth-grade English teacher Celeste Price can barely contain her excitement about her adolescent boys; the 26-year-old passes the night “in an excited loop of hushed masturbation” while her good-looking but dull-witted husband slumbers. Celeste’s mind is as pragmatic as her body is luscious, and her patience (“I had to regard the students like a delicate art exhibit and stay six feet away at all times, lest I be tempted to touch”) pays off. Before long, she coaxes shy Jack into what becomes the first of many liaisons. Unlike American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, Celeste is aware of her depravity—she fears that were she to work as a model, as some suggest, photos would capture “a soulless pervert”—but she indulges anyway. Her bold choice of meeting Jack at his house after school leads to unsurprising complications, as does the boy’s budding love. When Celeste’s usual caution erodes, all might be lost were this young woman not lover and fighter both. Nutting’s work creates a solid impression of Celeste’s psychopathic nature but, unlike the much richer Lolita, leaves the reader feeling empty. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013 Release date: 07/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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