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Discussing “The Cassandra” with Author Sharma Shields
May 14, 2020 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pmFree
Join Satya Doyle Byock for an evening Salon conversation with author Sharma Shields about her masterful book, The Cassandra.
In many ways paralleling Carl Jung’s pre-cognition about WWI as documented in The Red Book, The Cassandra is a novel exploring salomehttps://www.portlandjung.com/seminars/discussing-the-cassandra-with-author-sharma-shieldsthe inner and outer story of a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.
Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River in remote South Central Washington, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is processed plutonium, for use in the first atomic bombs.
Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself after a lifetime spent as an outsider. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health in jeopardy. Inspired by the classic Greek myth, this 20th century reimagining of Cassandra’s story is based on a real WWII compound that the author researched meticulously. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man’s capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.
Sharma Shields is the author of a short story collection, Favorite Monster, and two novels, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac and The Cassandra. Sharma’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Electric Lit, Catapult, Slice, Slate, Fairy Tale Review, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Fugue, and elsewhere and have garnered such prizes as the 2020 PNBA Award, 2016 Washington State Book Award, the Autumn House Fiction Prize, the Tim McGinnis Award for Humor, a Grant for Artist Projects from Artist Trust, and the A.B. Guthrie Award for Outstanding Prose. She received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Washington (2000) and her MFA from the University of Montana (2004). Sharma runs a small press, Scablands Books, and is a contributing editor for Moss. A current employee of Wishing Tree Books in Spokane, Sharma has worked in independent bookstores and public libraries throughout Washington State. She lives with her husband (writer and graphic novelist Simeon Mills) and their two children.
This salon is free and open to all:
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