Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but her only alternative seems even bleaker. 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. For over a decade, Hazel put up with being veritably quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when he demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human “mind-meld,” Hazel decides what was once merely irritating has become unbearable. The world she escapes into is a far cry from the dry and clinical bubble she’s been living in, a world populated with a whole host of deviant oddballs.
As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself in this uncharted territory, Byron is using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal to find her and bring her home. His threats become more and more sinister, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures in order to find a home of her own and free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches once and for all.
"A robot officiated at my wedding," said Hazel. "Let me start there."
this is one of those books where if i try to summarize the plot, it will sound like the opium dreams of a maniac. which i'm fine with for myself, but then you might dismiss this book as the opium dreams of a maniac and steer clear of it. hence, i will try to keep any content-related remarks pretty general, so no one runs off in fright. this is indeed pure crazytown in concept, but she wrangles the crazy into a well-executed and structured story that, for all its flashy weirdness, is oddly moving.
at its widest-angle view, it's about love. love for family, romantic love, self-love, love of power and legacy, the confusing love for another species, the practical and efficient love between a man and a sex doll. it's also about technology. and the effect of unchecked technology on human connection when it is fetishized over more "natural" experiences; in a cultish corporate community where reliance upon technology was perceived as a personal strength and the degree of one's reliance measured that person's value.
it's about one character removing herself from the world of robots and mocrochips and (literally) embracing the ugly, rugged, scarred essence of human existence, embodied by a man whose handshake was an exfoliant, and who is as far away from the sleek singularity as it gets:
If there was one person in the world who could make someone better at chopping things down with an ax just by having sex with him, this was the guy.
and it's about another character whose sexual preferences take a sudden and unexpected turn, leaving him with a longing for a connection impossible to satisfy. compared to his needs, hazel's father's relationships with sex dolls seems commonplace and simply practical.
so, yeah - love, technology, the loneliness of people who never learned how to experience healthy human connections either through the nature of a sociopathic-tinged brain, the nurture of an unemotional upbringing:
"Are you sad Mom's dying?" she asked. Her father nodded. "You know I don't like change."
or a clinical approach to life that prioritizes machinelike efficiency over messy humanity.
it's also pretty damn funny:
Liver had a lot of smells that seemed automotive in nature, so being on her back beneath him, Hazel thought about the flat rolling carts mechanics lie down on to slide beneath cars, and the sex became a little fun the way it might be fun to roll out from below a vehicle and then roll back under again, and again.
that's all i feel i should say about this - it's a weird little book, but weird in a very appealing way.
There is no one who negotiates the absurd as vigorously yet poignantly as Alissa Nutting. In her second novel, Made For Love, Nutting explores the loneliness of a future overly mediated by technology through a tremendous romp involving Hazel, trying to leave her tech mogul husband Byron even though his reach knows no bounds. There are sex dolls and a senior citizen trailer park and brain chips and a con man who loves dolphins and still, the story makes sense like a motherfucker. Brilliant, dense, hilarious writing that hurtles toward an ending that is both satisfying and unexpected.
In case you couldn’t tell from my placeholder “review” below, I reaaaallllllyyyyy wanted to read this one. Naturally that equated me being denied an advanced copy. Please note I’m not so first-world-problemy that I believe I am entitled to every freebie I request, but it does boggle my mind at times the things I am approved for and those I’m denied. I mean, I have continually crapped my drawers about Tampa so I thought I was a shoe-in for whatever Alissa Nutting’s cray-cray brain could churn out next. Alas, it was not meant to be and so for the past eight months my life has pretty much gone something like this:
♫♪♫♪ “I’ve been alone with you inside my mind . . . .” ♫♪♫♪
As I said above, I have wanted this ever since it was called “Untitled” with no synopsis or release date. Then the cover was revealed and it brought back all of my white trashiest memories of “Railroad Days” and airbrushed t-shirts . . . .
The following gif is actual footage of me once I finally received word this little beauty was on hold for me at the fancy downtown library . . . .
Imma be 100% straight up and tell you all that I stopped reading the blurb as soon as I found out Made for Love was about a woman who leaves her husband and has to move back in with her father and his new *cough* girlfriend . . . . .
Really, Nutting could have re-written an old telephone book and I still would have put myself on the wait list, but a middle-aged woman moving into a trailer park . . . . oh excuuuuuuuse me “mobile home community” full of senior citizens and their Hoveround scooters made me squee with glee. I went into this thinking it was going to be sort of a female version of a Jonathon Tropper tale – I had zero clue it was going to get all “mind meldy” or that it would contain a subplot featuring an additional character named Jasper . . . . .
Upon finishing, I was a little like . . . .
While not quite bizarre enough to be categorized as bizarro fiction, Made for Love is most definitely not like anything you’ve ever read before. I have a feeling the reviews and ratings on this one are going to be extremely polarized and there will be tons of people who just don’t get it because it’s so effing strange. As for me? I dug it and all of its crazy. Especially dear old dad . . . .
“It’s heavy as hell. The deliveryman asked me if rocks were inside. I said, ‘Nope, I ordered a new girlfriend!’ and he really cracked up. He had no idea I wasn’t joking.”
Recommended to?????? Weirdos, I guess.
I just told a friend to use this tactic to score a freebie, but here's the time when I'm willing to do anything myself for an ARC. AN.Y.THING. . . . . . .
My first Alissa Nutting read, but I'll be back for more! The first chapter showcases some of the best writing I've ever seen. Hilarious, character-driven, perceptive social commentary. It has everything. The second chapter was even better.
The plot turned out to be less gripping than the first few chapters suggested, but it provided a superb context for Nutting to incorporate her hilarious commentary on technology of today and how it might look in the future. This is a farce at its finest, for the most part, but I will be honest that I became un-hooked part way through due to a stagnant storyline. By the end, the conflict remains the same and the situations become a little too ridiculous to fathom. As long as you can appreciate brilliant writing, you'll love this book. If you need a strong storyline you might skip it.
**UPDATE: once again, HBO is able to breathe fresh life into pretty good source material. The new TV series of this is fabulous in tone and wonderful in adaptation. And I will say Adaptation. The book is recognizable, but significantly altered. All for the better. Looks like Nutting worked on the screenplay, so that makes sense. Also explains why we haven’t seen any new novels from here recently. Have fun with this one, book, show or both!
The sophomore slump is real. I LOVED Alissa Nutting's debut novel, "Tampa". It was outrageous, explicit, unapologetic, and a total badass.
Nutting's latest novel, "Made for Love" is cringe-worthy with idiotic characters and a paper-thin plot that never gets off the ground. The first 50 pages were somewhat interesting, but once the narrative is switched from Hazel (she's a nincompoop) to Jasper (and he's a freak), I just couldn't take it anymore. I tried, I really tried. I think Nutting was overreaching this time around. She can definitely write, but I think she was trying too hard with some of the metaphors and the wordy, head-scratching prose. Sex dolls, horny dolphins, and mind-controlling husbands, oh my! I think not. Pretentious garbage is more like it. Ugh.
I would recommend this book to well...NO ONE. Trust me on this one please.
There is no denying that Alissa Nutting is an excellent writer. I can't imagine being faced with writing a novel after putting Tampa out into the world either...that is one tall order. Perhaps she was trying too hard? When a book leads with a man living with a blow-up doll and that becomes the least quirky part of the story, I'm out! I finished this but I did not enjoy it. 1.5 stars
I've been looking forward to this book all year and it did not disappoint. Alissa Nutting is a genius of the absurd, hilarious and straight up bizarre; she takes a sledgehammer to societal norms and never shies away from uncomfortable taboos.
At 35 years old, Hazel abruptly leaves her psychologically abusive husband Byron Gogol, the multi-millionaire CEO of a monolithic tech company not entirely unlike (you guessed it) Google. With nowhere else to go, she moves in with her septuagenarian father and his newly acquired sex doll—a better alternative than staying with Byron, who has threatened to take control of her entire mind as part of an innovative new experiment.
Meanwhile, a handsome conman named Jasper, who relies on his Jesus-like appearance to scam wealthy women into falling in love with him, has a near-death experience in the ocean one night and from that point forward can only be sexually aroused by dolphins. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
With Byron spying on her move and threatening to harm her loved ones, Hazel grows increasingly desperate to escape his grasp for good. Ultimately Hazel and Jasper's storylines intersect in a surprising but strangely logical way, and it turns out they may be able to save each other.
Made for Love is an delightfully odd trip from the opening sentence to the final page. Nutting's unrelenting strangeness and deviance isn't for everyone, but it is certainly for me. I ate up every last word. Beneath the entertaining absurdity is smart commentary on the intersection between technology and human connection, and a poignant dismantling of the cultural norms we come to expect from stories about love and relationships.
No one makes me more uncomfortable to be a participant in human sexuality than Alissa Nutting, and I mean that as an enormous compliment. She commits to ideas with fervor and wit, and even though those ideas are funny & wild, they still feel true to her cast of characters. I doubt it's even possible for her to write something boring, and god knows this book never is. It is a delight.
It is partially about a sex doll named Diane, but let’s not get bogged down in the details. I recommend this clever, quirky, comical and irreverent take on human connection and increasingly invasive technology. The premise might be absurd, but there’s a bit more to this story, I promise.
I had a bad feeling about this ever since I first read the synopsis--that there was the possibility for a lot of interesting strangeness (which Nutting delivers) but that the idea also just seems a bit cartoony and maybe even dumb. This book is funny and sharp, but I got a sense of something just sort of thin and not working from the first page; for a long time I was hoping it would go away, but it only got worse. There are some really interesting ideas here, but the whole just didn't work for me.
„Made for Love“ (Създадени за любов) е една книга, за която научих съвсем случайно покрай сериала, наличен в HBO Max. (8 епизода с времетраене около 20 минути – гледат се доста бързо). И след края на първи сезон (обхваща нещата от първата половина на книгата), проверих дали сериалът е подновен за втори сезон и така научих, че има и книга, която го предшества. И реших да погледна и книгата, за да видя как продължават нещата нататък.
Сериалът е леко шантав, книгата също – при все че минава за комедия. Но самата история разгърната в книгата не успя да ме впечатли с почти нищо. Попрехвърлих я с прескачане на места, изясни ми се как продължават нещата, но абсолютно нищо вълнуващо не открих. Абсурден сюжет, неадекватни персонажи. Сериалът въпреки същата абсурдност е с една идея по-добре представен. Вероятно ще проследя и втория му сезон.
„Made for Love“ може да мине в категорията откачено, но забавно (донякъде). Сюжетът, въпреки че е нестандартен (а аз приветствам опитите за различност в творбите), едва ли може да се възприеме много на сериозно.
My third favorite Nutting book, but still well worth reading. Since the other two were unputdownable, I was eager to devour this promising example of her style.
My first impression was that Hazel's directionless attitude of bum-in-the-making makes her a prime victim of Byron's manipulative control, and waking up to his abuse allows her to grow a decision-making organ before her brain became entirely vestigial. Nutting's books contain casual sex as a prominent feature, a protuberant preoccupation, but an idiosyncratic one what with her quirky kinks and kinky quirks. Bowel-tightening family dynamics are also not uncommon tropes in her arsenal.
The narration began to feel heavy-handed by the third chapter with excessive asides. I felt less control over the prose light show as she had exerted in Tampa. Still, most sentences accomplish several tactical satirical deployments, and rely on cheeky, absurd overstatements or character inner monologues relayed in an innately charming way. At times the style grows obnoxious but is overwhelmingly seductive at others.
Her artful use of hyperbole and the apt hallucinogenic metaphorical oddball comments make for delightful surprises. This becomes a parable of technological enslavement, exploitation, leaving our main character with hard choices, so multiple times she chooses the lesser of two evils. The digital ingenuity of certain plot points with soft sci-fi elements are calibrated to amuse and simultaneously comment on some aspect of society.
I hesitate to call it a brilliant satire but it is a refreshing change from the traditional realism of today's literary fiction. The incorporation of near-future tech speculation and vivid imagery peg it as a stand-out work. Hazel and her dad are fire crackers, undignified people with glaring insufficiencies. Their living arrangement is gripping for the awkward third wheel of the sex doll, leading to their competing interests and both of them longing for a refuge from their insecurities. In the flashbacks to Byron's mogul mansion we discover a hysterical futuristic bathroom, weird headgear, corporate saboteurs, eventual spies, and a connection to Jasper, the on-the-run dolphin boy. Jasper's sections appear unrelated at first, and also unrealistic, since scamming woman with his method in this day and age would not be as easy as he makes it out to be unless the women were specifically desperate, very young, or otherwise incompetent. The phantasmagorias of Nutting's descriptive speculations reach absurd lengths and require disturbing leaps of the imagination but serve to thrust the novel into cerebral territory. She is constantly jousting with the reader, daring them to follow her through every rabbit hole train of thought. If you fully commit to immersing yourself in the bonkers flights of fancy you can grow accustomed to the absurdist wit behind the imaginative escapism in every sentence. Nutting understands a fundamental trait of writing that many other writers miss. That is, 95% of sentences are missed opportunities to thrill and engage your reader. She applies this principle to a fault, deploying zingers every step of the way. When her storytelling leave plot holes and her characters make decisions worthy of B-grade horror films, we must turn to her writing to propel us through the book.
I picked up this one because of a nice blurb from Roxane Gay as I'll basically read anything that she recommends. This novel is strange and entertaining, to be sure.
Hazel is married to Byron, tech genius/ giant. She leaves him when she becomes afraid he has plans to put a computer chip in her head to be able to monitor her thoughts. Hazel has nowhere to go and ends up with her father and his new sex doll. Meanwhile, a man named Jasper is only sexually attracted to dolphins... And I'll leave the synopsis right there.
Nutting is a compelling writer and this book is a literary beach read dealing with love and technology. It's interesting, if at times over the top.
COMPLETELY WACKY. BONKERS. And legit made me LOL in some spots. Alissa Nutting is just such a good writer I want to read everything she writes. And so much of this was super-creative wow what in the world is even happeningggg. ?!? THIS BOOK IS BANANAS. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Ugh! As the absurdity continued chapter after chapter after chapter, I wondered aloud if some semblance of reality would make an appearance. Never did! My brief encounter with Made for Love was unrelentingly maddening and interminably frustrating. What was the point?
Buried somewhere in this crazy insane piece of work is social commentary (I think!) on love and relationships in a society dominated by technology. Laced with satire, sarcasm, wit and a few pinches of irony and mockery thrown in for good measure, I could never quite fit all the pieces together into a coherent and intelligible moral to the story. Intended and unabashed deadpan humor? Possibly. Maybe. Could be. I don’t know!
Nutting expertly challenged our assumptions about child sexual predation in her literary debut Tampa, successfully forcing the reader to ponder some fundamental societal beliefs. The sex was graphic. The point well communicated.
It feels like Made for Love attempted a similar exploration of some of our core beliefs and expectations but it never quite brought home the point for me. Sex plays an important role in this book too. The story opens with sex doll relationships, explores abstention from sex, casual and occasional sex and even introduces the reader to dolphin sex fetishism (think of all the crude jokes and coarse innuendoes about a man and the blowhole! snicker, snicker ...) A company named Gogol (a nod to the ubiquity of Google?) along with the embedded microchip that data dumps daily provides the symbolism for technological domination over free will … I think!
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good piece of satire that pokes fun at the craziness of modern life and Nutting’s writing was excellent. But the point of Made for Love was lost on me, the message hidden under an Everest of absurdity. Maybe the absurdity of modern life is the point. I just don’t know.
I did laugh out loud several times during the story and for that reason I’m rounding my rating up to 2 stars. If not for the occasional chuckle, this was a one-star read for me ... it was a story to nowhere. Good writing; unknown destination.
Many folks adored this book. It is a quick and easy read … experience it for yourself.
One of my favorite genres is "Excuse me, but WTF???" and this absolutely fits the bill. I have meant to get around to Nutting and I don't know why it took me so long but I'm glad the new show gave me the jumpstart.
As is often the case with WTF books the less you know going in the better. Nutting is playing with a whole lot here: tech companies, surveillance, kink, dying, and more. But the reason the book works is that these are really just trappings to the central story of Hazel, a woman who had a bad childhood and took marriage as a way out of it. It's not at all an uncommon story, and if at first it's hard to understand why Hazel made the choices she did, by the end of the book you really get it. I love a book that I never know what it's going to do, and I love even more when it has a strong emotional center to it.
You have to be very open for this book to do absolutely anything. Because it does. Content warnings for suicide, zoophilia, stalking.
I did the audio which was fine but nothing to write home about. (The reader is one who does male voices in a way that always bugs me.)
wow. as a person who has experienced emotionally abusive relationships and controlling exes who stalked me multiple months after break ups that resulted due to their repeated out of pocket behavior, the way alissa nutting was able to make this dystopian absurdist tale resonate in a very deep grounded real place is truly masterful and awe-inspiring. she is one of the most talented working writers alive, imho, and doing things few others are in the writing space. truly inspired work and wholly a stan of her brain and how it works. this is my third nutting work, i first read her short story collection, unclean jobs for woman and girls, which i absolutely loved—specifically the short story, ant colony, which i think about daily and think would make the most incredible A24 horror film; and her first novel, tampa, which is a genderbent nabkov’s lolita meets easton ellis’s american psycho meets gus van sant’s to die for (1995) but also somehow not any of those things and entirely it’s own singular thing that just has you sitting there after you’re done reading thinking, “wtf did i just read and why was it also brilliant??????? am i broken?????” this novel was just next level incredible. there are essays and essays and essays that could be and will be written about this text for years to come and i just feel so blessed to be alive while alissa nutting is publishing work. i cannot wait to read what she writes next. there are so many things i want to say about this book but i also just don’t want to say anything because it’s so hard to describe????? and also everyone deserves to experience this story first hand unspoiled.
i read this after i finally binge watched the hbo max television series of the same name that was adapted from this novel and falling in love with it. i highly highly recommend the show starring cristina milliotti (how i met your mother, palm springs) and ray romano (everybody loves raymond), which was unfortunately unjustly cancelled after two seasons but still completely worth the watch and ends on a very poetic satisfying note regardless. i just can’t wait to read more alissa nutting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hope she publishes something new soon!!!!!! because i will EAT IT UP 🤍🤍
for fans of ottessa moshfegh, mona awad, han kang, yun ko-eun, melissa broder, haruki murakami, banana yoshimoto, john waters, raven leilani, anna dorn, samantha irby.
also shout out to my high school bestie for “teaching” me about malcom brenner and dolly when we were in college, which is all i could think about the entire time i was reading the book jasper storyline so it didn’t feel at all too outlandish or impossible/implausible at all. never thought that knowledge would come in handy/be useful in any sort of way so…lmao 💀 loving that for the both of us 💀 obviously, plot spoilers if you google malcolm brenner prior to reading the novel so google at your own risk !!! ⛔️
Made for Love is the perfect book for Americans in 2017 AD: a circus of events so absurd that you're not sure if it's okay to laugh or not. Just when you've decided it's okay to laugh, at least a little bit, the situation turns and you're stabbed through the middle with utter fear and sadness.
Nutting writes with such assured confidence about such extraordinarily surreal topics—just FYI, there's an attempted dolphin rape in the book, which gives that rosy airbrushed cover a different appeal, non? I trust Nutting to write anything and everything after Made for Love seeing how she transformed what in most circumstances would be the harebrained hallucinations of an addled addict into a compelling, poignant, and comprehensible narrative.
Beyond the 2017 tone, the story itself is part and parcel of this era. The evil genius CEO of a tech company whose real-life inspiration Nutting barely tries to mask (in the book, it's called Gogol) marries Hazel, a down-on-her-luck, female Joe Schmo. When he tries to install a mind-reading chip in her brain as the next stage of his technology takeover, she demurs and escapes to live with her dad and his sex doll in a retirement trailer park. Parallel to Hazel's story, we have Jasper, a lothario con artist whose seduction strategy can be described as "bone and loan": he sleeps with women, asks to dip into their 401(k)s, and then slips away in the dark of night. Their stories are separate until Act III when they overlap for the booming finale and make us wonder about 21st century greed, the social dislocation caused by technology, and prospects for love in all of its forms during the age of robotics and Instagram.
What's astonishing about Nutting's authorial talents is how she creates empathetic characters whose concerns feel real while all of the other elements of the story combine to wreak a surrealist storm. The reason this book works is that even though the majority of the plot takes place up in the stratosphere, far removed from anything resembling daily reality, the characters are tethered—admittedly, sometimes only by flimsy strings of dental floss—to Earth. The characters do wild things, but their reasons for doing so are reasonable and recognizable. In tradition with her first novel Tampa, Nutting plays with gender types to create a fascinating protagonist. Hazel is a female version of the stoner you might encounter in a Seth Rogen movie.
I adored Made for Love but will not be recommending it to my reader friends as I usually do. The dark, absurdist humor coupled with the zany plot will leave many people claiming "I don't get it". But if you are intrigued by the possibility of dolphin kidnapping, the dislocation of an elbow inside the mouth of a sex doll, and nihilistic diatribes about roadkill, I suggest that you try to "get it", even if like me, you don't manage to "get" all of it.
This book is weird AF, in the best way possible! Hazel is both hilarious and disarming, and will be a little too relatable for many readers. As always, Alissa Nutting makes the most poignant observations of our current culture--obsessed with sex, technology, love, wealth, and praise. Somehow she blends everything perfectly, so that the more fantastical elements are true to life and not unnecessarily strange or pretentious. With a memorable main character and side characters that are equally as important/fucked up/wonderful, Made for Love is one to watch out for this year!
delightful in a fucked up way. which is what i like in my Nutting. this book is like one of those movies by weird, oddball directors like Raising Arizona type business or Big Lebowski sort of. Now I want to have sex with both dolphins and dolls. Thanks, Obama!
This absurdist techno-comedy is really a lot less about the slapstick and silly situations it presents and a lot more about being human than it would initially let on. It might be easy to get lost in the WTF-ery, as we spend 40 pages with the main character while her forearm is stuck in her elderly father's sex doll's mouth (for example.) It's funny...obviously...but if you're looking for a fast-paced adventure this is not the book for you. So while the pacing and plotting are sometimes a little wonky (compared to a traditional story, at least) it was effortless to connect with Hazel (and Jasper) and take the emotionally journey in, out, and around all the gross and uncomfortable edges of love and connection. This was my type story, for sure.
About the book:Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane - his sex doll companion. Life with Hazel's father is strained at best, but it's got to be better than her marriage to dominating tech billionaire, Byron Gogol. For over a decade, Hazel has been quarantining in Byron's family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. So when Byron demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips, turning Hazel into a human guinea pig, Hazel makes a run for it. Will Hazel be able to free herself from Byron's virtual clutches before he finds her? Release Date: July 4th, 2017 Genre: Contemporary Pages: 310 Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (3.5)
What I Liked: • The storyline is so weird • It got weirder • And more weird
What I Didn't Like: • Some parents just so ridiculous • Parents seemed to drag
Overall Thoughts: Wow this was one weird book. Hazel almost seems like the most adjusted person for a moment and then you realize that she's as messed up as others.
Her dad is dying and decides that he just wants the company of sex dolls.
Her husband has implemented a device into her brain to see EVERYTHING she sees.
Joshua is a man who loved using women for money and sex until one day in the ocean a dolphin has rapes him and now he can't stop getting turned on thinking about that. Now he can't have sex with women, going as far as trying to kidnap a dolphin to have sex with. For a while I didn't know what his storyline was in this book and I still don't know the point of it other than Hazel and him meeting up in the book toward the ending.
Final Thoughts: I'm looking forward to how they are going to show this on the show. Book was entertaining but I felt I needed more.
When you think of Alissa Nutting’s writing, what comes to mind? Dark? Disturbing? Psychological? Or transgressive? While this is what I have come to expect from Nutting, I tend to enjoy the social criticism found in her books. In her stunning debut novel Tampa, we follow Celeste Price, a young beautiful middle grade teacher who is a hebephile. Which allows for an interesting take on the nature of a sexual predator, often not associated with female sexuality. This does allow Nutting to explore the schoolboy fantasy of an older woman teaching them the ways of the flesh, whether it be a Mrs Robinson type character, a babysitter or in this case a teacher. The sexual desire of a boy with their budding sexuality; to be with an experienced, already developed older woman. Tampa looks at how developing boys are unable to separate their emotions from the sexual act and this ultimately leads to them getting hurt not, to mention the emotional and psychological damage it will do to them for years to come.
However, you could also look at it as a novel of a woman unhappy in her marriage. From the outside it looks like they are the perfect couple, he is rich, hardworking and determined but she is truly unhappy, despite what people see. Is that because of her singular sexual obsession for fourteen year old boys or is it far more? When Tampa was being published, Alissa Nutting was in the midst of getting a divorce. While Tampa explores someone unhappy in marriage, her new novel Made for Love is the next step, someone trying to escape a bad marriage.
This novel follows Hazel who has just moved back in with her father and his new girlfriend Diane (truth is, Diane is a lifelike sex doll). She has run out of her marriage with Byron Gogol, the tech mogul and founder of Gogol Industries. Hazel is willing to give up the high life to just be free, but is she ever truly free? She ran because Byron planned to make her the subject of the first-ever human “mind-meld”, he will be able to see everything she does or thinks. Hazel on the other hand will not have the same level of access, he is a CEO and needs to protect his company.
I often look for the autobiographical elements in a book, I find it gives me a deeper understanding to both the novel and the author. This is why I often like to read a biography on some of my favourite authors. While I do not know much about Alissa Nutting’s personal life, knowing she went through a separation while writing Tampa really added an extra layer to the novel. Following up with a book similar to Made for Love, reveals even more. It suggests that there was more than just an unhappy marriage.
While there are plenty of novels about women living in a controlling relationship, I think Made for Love was the first one that ever made me feel the anxiety of trying to escape. In an age of social media and technology, it has increasingly become easier to track and monitor someone. Social media allows us to read about their thoughts with the world, and with an app like ‘Find My Friends’ I can tell you where my wife is right now. Privacy is becoming a distant memory and for Hazel, even her thoughts are not safe.
Yet again, on the surface their marriage appears to be a happy one, not even Hazel’s father understands why she would leave and give up on a life of luxury. Made for Love reminds me of Black Mirror in the way it explores technology in relationships and the disturbing reality of what it would be like to try to escape and abusive one. The way people value wealth and status over the emotional wellbeing. This is a biting satire and is what I have come to expect from Alissa Nutting, I eagerly await her next book.