Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024407, Sat, 13 Jul 2013 16:28:01 -0400

Bookshops refuse to sell novel that has been compared to Lolita


Bookshops refuse to sell school sex predator novel
July 14, 2013

Andrew Taylor
Arts reporter

Former middle school teacher Debra Lafave. Photo: AP

Bookshops in several states are refusing to sell a controversial new novel that has been compared to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

American writer Alissa Nutting's novel Tampa, about a female teacher who preys on teenage boys, will be out in Australia on July 24. But some bookstores are refusing to stock it.

''Sometimes I take what I define as the moral high ground,'' said Helen Baxter, owner of Blues Point Bookshop in Sydney's McMahons Point.

''I just felt I'm in an environment where I couldn't personally promote this.

''It's such a complex issue and, right now, I'm surrounded by many churches and I see in the community the enormous stress of this ongoing problem of child abuse.''

Other bookshops in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia are also refusing to put the controversial novel on their shelves.

But the manager of Dymocks Camberwell, Kat Kelly-Kobes, said she would sell Tampa with an R18+ age warning sticker.

''It does go straight into some pretty graphic stuff,'' she said. ''People should be warned about that.''

But she added: ''If someone wants it, it's not for me to say they're not allowed to read it.''

Nutting's novel about a female sexual predator, Celeste Price, who seduces a teen student, has divided critics in the US with its graphic accounts of their sexual encounters and its satirical style.

The central character is promoted by publisher Allen & Unwin as a literary monster on par with Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Humbert Humbert from Lolita.

Nutting said she was inspired to write Tampa after coming across the case of school teacher Debra Lafave, who was convicted of having sex on multiple occasions with a 14-year-old student.

Nutting had gone to school with Lafave and said she wanted to explore how female sexual predators and their male victims are treated differently by society.

''The response is so interesting to me because, when the victim is a teenage girl, we don't ask her if she wanted to do it,'' she said. ''We don't assume it was a positive learning experience.'

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