By Leah Greenblatt
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:06 AM EDT

Clearcut

B+
type
  • Book
genre

In playwright Nina Shengold’s first novel, the dense, remote forests of the Pacific Northwest are foggy with more than just precipitation: Her logging-crew protagonists — rugged loner Earley, privileged Berkeley dropout Reed, and troubled femme fatale Zan — spend nearly half the book steaming up the metaphorical windows with their improvised couplings. And though Clearcut sounds like a drugstore bodice-ripper in premise, Shengold easily elevates it with her devotion to the souls — and not just the commingling body parts — of her characters, as well as her pungent language (a freshly cut log kicks up ”a backwash of warm cedar sawdust, as fragrant as cinnamon”).

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