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Clearcut by Nina Shengold
Aug 09, 2005 | 352 Pages
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  • Paperback $16.95

    Aug 09, 2005 | 352 Pages

  • Ebook $4.99

    Dec 18, 2007 | 352 Pages

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"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

Author Essay

A Treeplanter Revisits Her Roots
A Personal Essay by Nina Shengold

My first view of the Olympic Peninsula was something akin to love at first sight. I was twenty-two, having a summer adventure; I thought I was just passing through. But the mountains seduced me. Before I knew it, I’d signed on for a stint with the U. S. Forest Service, and when even that seemed too straitlaced, a treeplanters’ cooperative deep in the western Olympics.

We were a group of fourteen men and women, frizzy as R. Crumb cartoons, outfitted with hip-slung treebags and hoedads, a hand tool of near-Neolithic simplicity. Every morning we roused ourselves from our damp tents, trucks and trailers, threw on layers of raingear and slogged into man-made hell. The forest had been clearcut, every cedar and fir felled by loggers. Clearcuts are not bare. They’re littered with lopped branches, undergrowth, stumps and ankle-deep mudslides, often at nearly vertical grades. Add a needling drizzle of sleet, plus the weight of a few hundred seedlings, and it’s amazing that anyone’s willing to do, much less love, this work.

Two things rescue you. One is the metaphor, regeneration made literal, a hands-on healing of land that’s been laid waste by greed. The other is simple magnificence. When your back aches, your legs throb and your fingers are numb, you have only to turn from the earth you’ve been facing for hours, and look up at Olympus. The beauty is boundless. I’m glad I was there.

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