Set in the gloriously rugged backwoods of the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s, Nina Shengold’s gripping debut novel follows three people in search of new lives deep into uncharted terrain of the body and heart.
When rough-hewn loner Earley Ritter picks up a hitchhiker one rainy night, he can’t imagine how much it will change his life. A "shake-rat" who salvages cedar stumps left when loggers clearcut, Earley seems to have little in common with Reed Alton, a gifted Berkeley dropout. But when Earley meets Zan, the fiery and mysterious woman Reed has been following, erotic sparks fly in unexpected directions. Thrown together in the splendid isolation of the woods, with passions and tensions mounting, the unlikely trio achieves a fragile balance that–like their idyllic patch of forest–will be shattered by violence. At once a page-turning psychological drama and a colorful, wildly comic recreation of a lost time and place, Clearcut explores the boundaries that divide us, and what it takes to cross them.
"A stunning book, one of the best literary novels I have come across in a long time. Shengold's prose is fluent like a river, and her characters are as sharp as knives in this beautiful love story." --Da Chen, author of Colors of the Mountain
"A beautiful, romantic, alive book. Clearcut is the patchouli and reckless love of the ‘70s, the rugged beauty and wreckage of the Pacific Northwest forests, woven together with a storyteller's grace and the great grand character of Earley Ritter, with whom every reader will fall in love.” —Amy Bloom, author of Love Invents Us
“Shengold captures the sorrow and loss that are the constant companions of bliss.” –Rebecca Stowe, author of The Shadow of Desire