I read Tampa, by Alissa Nutting, some time ago. And as hard as the story was to read, I was absolutely blown away by it. In Tampa, the main character is a middle school teacher who is obsessed with one of her students. She begins a sexual relationship with him. She is clearly a pedophile, preying on young men, but Nutting writes her so vividly and thoroughly, that even though you know what she is doing is beyond reprehensible, you feel badly for her because she lives such a miserable life. Tampa is a book that has stayed with me ever since I first read it.
Because I enjoyed Tampa so much, I wanted to read more of Nutting’s work, so I grabbed this short story collection, which (according to Goodreads) appears to be her only other published work. One is forthcoming in 2017, though. I admit that I’m not a huge short story fan. I can handle one here or there, but overall, I enjoy novels much more. That said, I really liked this collection a lot. The stories are all very adult oriented, namely sex in space, injecting ants into your body in the future, watching garden gnomes have sex (I loved this one, actually), going to Hell, and confronting the ghost of your mother.
I look forward to reading more from Nutting. I’ve been very impressed with how she handles taboo and unpleasant topics with care and, oftentimes, humor. To write such a varied collection of short stories shows her creativity and imagination knows no bounds. I highly recommend both of her books.