The Sawtooth Complex by Susan Lang is a fascinating novel that deals vigorously with the dilemmas of human life on the planet. Most characters are torn by contradictions, both personal and political. A few are avid developers; others seek a balance between humanity and nature. Several touching love stories develop and falter among them.
The true hero, Maddie Farley, is an inspiring and reluctant monkey-wrencher who lives most closely to the earth. The natural world she inhabits is invoked with poignant accuracy and love. Ultimately, nature itself blows up everyone’s world in a startling forest fire that overpowers the land and the people, laying waste to most everything. The writing about this thrilling climatic event is terrifying, spellbinding, very intense and powerful. And then a miracle occurs.
In the wreckage left behind, the author, who is no sentimental idealist or doomsday prophet, finds reason to hope. The story is engrossing, entertaining, and really makes us think. It’s a fine addition to our best environmental and human-humane literature.
About the author: Susan Lang was awarded a 2007 Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts for The Sawtooth Complex when it was a novel in progress. She is currently faculty emeritus at Yavapai College, and she founded and directed the Southwest Writers Series at Prescott College for 25 years. She was also founding director of Yavapai College's Hassayampa Institute.
Susan is the author of a trilogy published by University of Nevada Press about a woman homesteading in the southwestern wilderness during the years 1929 to 1941. The first novel in the trilogy, Small Rocks Rising, won the 2003 Willa Award. Her second novel, Juniper Blue, was released in 2006, and the third, Moon Lily, in fall 2008. Lang’s short stories and poems have been published in magazines such as Red Rock Review, Iris, and The Idaho Review.