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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Clearcut by Nina Shengold

Clearcut by Nina Shengold. New York: Anchor Books, 2005. ISBN: 1-4000-7969-1

This is a great Pacific Northwest novel, a love story triangle that will surprise and move you in unexpected ways. Earley Ritter, the primary protagonist, is a low-rent logger type. Independent cuss of a guy who prefers working on his own, or with a partner, rather than in a crew or regular outfit. He lives in a bus nearly on top of the mountain in the Olympic rain forest.

As the story begins, he picks up a hitchhiker, Reed, a college kid from Berkeley, who is looking up a girlfriend who is working on a tree-planting crew. Earley falls in love (or lust, at least) with the girl immediately, and takes on the kid as his partner, cutting up cedar leftover stumps into shingles.

Entirely against his will, his better nature, and his intention, Earley finds himself involved in a doomed love triangle with the both of them. The story rushes on to its inevitable disaster of an ending, but carries you inexorably with it.

The beautiful setting, right here in the Olympics, provides a big part of the attraction. And Ms. Shengold's characters seem as intrinsic a part of the landscape as do the trees, mountains, and dirt logging roads. This is a love story you won't soon forget. Highly recommended, especially for those in love with the northwest, and anyone in the mood for an irresistible if unconventional love story.

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