Of all the mistakes Hazel has made in her 30ish years on the planet — a woeful hash of snafus, slips, and blunders wrapped up in one unholy burrito of bad judgment — her biggest might have been marrying Byron Gogol. Her second biggest is trying to leave him. A deeply eccentric tech mogul whose ambition and intellect is matched only by his burning need to micromanage everything around him, including his wife, Byron is willing to use all the near-future tools at his disposal to bring her home. And so a dazed, broke, and friendless Hazel finds herself cornered in the only other place she knows: her irascible semi-estranged father’s retirement-community double-wide.
Made for Love doesn’t so much unfold as spill out, a crackpot piñata of sex dolls, dolphin coitus, and droll postmillennial satire. Nutting’s surreal style is both manic and tender; her characters — the hapless Hazel, her coolly malevolent ex, a leathery, nippleless outlaw named Liver — read like demented refugees from a Kurt Vonnegut novel, dragged into the 21st century and deep-fried in Florida sunshine. But they’re endearingly human too: kooks and misfits who fail at love over and over, and still, against all evidence, try again. B+
“Hazel’s seventy-six-year-old father had bought a doll. A life-size woman doll. The kind designed to provide a sexual experience that came as close as possible to having sex with a living (or maybe, Hazel thought, a more apt analogy was a very-very-recently deceased) female. Its arrival crate bore an uncanny resemblance to a no-frills pine coffin. It made Hazel recall the passage from Dracula where he ships himself overseas via boat.”