The "literature of despair" is how Spokane author Sharma Shields describes her personal creative focus, seen in her two novels, The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac and The Cassandra, and dozens of short stories. Now, in EVERGREEN, she's edited a collection of poetry and prose from fellow writers across the Inland Northwest and from the Pacific Coast to Western Montana, under her Scablands Book imprint.

The result is an unhappy — no optimistic fairy-tale endings here — mix of stories about death, colonization, monsters and plenty more uncomfortable truths about the terrible things humans inflict on each other and are forced to endure.

"This is kind of the antidote to social media" and its carefully curated content of life's happy highlights, Shields says.

Many of Evergreen's inclusions are based on writers' real, lived experiences, Shields says, including Richard Fifield's recounting of a deadly car accident, CMarie Fuhrman's encounter with a maimed coyote and Elissa Washuta's bitter reflection on the generations-long trauma White colonizers have inflicted on Indigenous people like her and her ancestors.

Other pieces center on the more absurd, like Shawn Vestal's Frankenstein-esque monster that destroys a small, rural town.

Shields hopes these are the kinds of stories that stay with readers for a while. "[You can] get to know these characters and their experiences, and see a side of life that is not glorified, but spoken about with real honesty. That is increasingly rare, I think."

Evergreen is available locally at Auntie's Bookstore and Wishing Tree Books, plus a few other local retailers, and online at scablandsbooks.org.

Saranac Art Projects Presents: Presencing @ Saranac Art Projects

Fridays, Saturdays, 5-8 p.m. Continues through Jan. 29
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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's Associate Editor, overseeing and contributing to the paper's arts and culture sections, including food and events. Chey (pronounced "Shay") is a lifelong resident of the Spokane area and a graduate of Washington State University. She's been on staff at the Inlander since 2012...