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The Story of Mary Maclane

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  410 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Years ahead of her time, this book flew out of bookstores when it was first published in 1902. A personal history of a Montana teenager that shocked the world and influenced generations of American writers.
Paperback, 328 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Riverbend Publishing (first published 1902)
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Early Westerns, 1880-1915
79th out of 79 books — 7 voters
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Great Women Authors
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Community Reviews

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Holy cats, that was ridiculous. And hilarious and possibly amazing. I Await The Devil's Coming is a bit like being locked in the bathroom with the drunkest girl at the party who keeps talking at you about her 'pain'. Written over 100 years ago, when Maclane was 19, this was one of the very first confessional memoirs (though she refers to Marie Bashkirtseff's published diaries, the humbly named 'I Am The Most Interesting Book Of All', which sounds like it might be similarly crazy too, though Macl ...more
"Napoleon was a man, and though sensitive, his flesh was safely covered"

Yes, but who was Mary MacLane? Mary MacLane was a truly extraordinary nineteen-year old with a "fine young body that is feminine in every fiber" and a brain that is "a conglomeration of aggressive versatility". She is "a fantasy--absurdity--a genius!" with no parallel, "a genius, with a wondrous liver within". But she lives in Butte Montana in 1901, and stuck there, she writes this "Portrayal" of herself, in which she is ver
I unfold myself in accursed and precious written thoughts. I cast the reflections of my inner selves on the paper from the insolent mirror of my mind.

I Await the Devil's Coming is a furious book, full of ambition and grandiosity. Any emotion here is only ever taken to the extreme. Her hometown, the mining center of Butte, Montana, is "the perfection of ugliness". She worships the Devil and prays for a strong and violent relationship and salvation from everything drab and chaste. This book yells,
Nothing, oh nothing on the earth can suffer like a woman young and all alone!

There is a lot in this book that appeals to a part in me that likes essentialism, this affect driven part. Mary MacLane's book is something (it is /something/) that is about what it means to be an adolescent teenage girl (well, one in the Western world, and there are other important constraints here that need to be acknowledged, whiteness, privilege). But there is an anger and a yearning and a sadness that I can't help
The wonderous Mary Maclane, "Montana's lit'ry lady!" This book is not a story, as the title suggests; not a memoir, either. It's the daily journal of a lonesome 19-year-old in Butte, Montana, in the early months of 1902. Each day, she reflects on life writ large or small: declaring her unprecedented genius one day, telling a surrealist story about toothbrushes the next. Sensuously teaching "how to eat an olive," or describing how she eats breakfast alone, kicking against the kitchen chair, stari ...more
Oct 02, 2011 Molly marked it as to-read
From an ACLU handout at a Lewis & Clark Public Library program during the Big Read 2011: Banned in Butte when the author called the Butte area "as ugly an outlook as one could wish to see" and called the people of Butte "dry and warped." Butte did not like being insulted and the book was banned by the local library and denounced by The Butte Miner.
In her early pictures she wears the same look of fiery sullenness we see in the young Napoleon: she knows that within her there is a spring of life and she is afraid that the world will not let it flow forth...
-- Rebecca West
Peter Landau
Mary MacLane is the kind of woman I love, a bit crazy, maybe. Self-obsessed, yeah, sure. But I want to party with this cowgirl!

She spends the entirety of her book ranting about her genius, how lonely she is in the middle-of-nowhere America and that the Devil is the only man for her. It's a constant refrain, the title of the book, the only being she reaches out for other than herself (and an unnamed female companion, long gone).

After I while I wondered where the genius was. The writing is strong
Sian Lile-Pastore
This is crazy and ridiculous and unintentionally funny and therefore amazing. Published in 1902 when the author was 19, this has such a great style that I kept having to read bits out to whoever was in the room with me (hi bert!). Mainly she is talking about what a genius she is and how great the devil is, a bit about food and then more about her genius. I loved this bit:

'Also I eat bits of toast. I have my breakfast alone - because the rest of the family are still sleeping, - sitting at the cor
An incredibly dry and high strung stream of thoughts. tediously intense and exhausting at times, I know what it's like to live like that. An effective reflection of 'Nothingness'. I wish I could have befriended mary, I think we would have gotten a long.
Amy Rae
I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can say better than this review right here.

That said, this book is an interesting historical oddity that quickly overstays its welcome. For a bohemian genius, MacLane sure is bad at writing things I'd actually want to read. Sure, she can do entire entries on eating olives and how sexy strong Napoleon is, not to mention fanfic of her proposing to the Devil, but what the hell does she do all day? Wanders around in the Nothingness of Butte's sandy scenery, makes fu
Linda Martin
Mar 10, 2013 Linda Martin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers - to learn from her writing style
Recommended to Linda by: Amazon.Com
Mary MacLane wrote her heart out for three months, but unfortunately had little to say. You see, her life was extremely boring and she was suffering greatly from a lack of excitement and love. She was nineteen - an age when girls these days are exploring the world, going to rock concerts, and finding romance. Mary was deprived of all that - she was stuck in her mother's home in Butte, Montana at the start of the 20th century. Her book was published in 1902.

Mary's life was horribly dull. She'd li
Thom Swennes
I have never experienced a Montana winter and if The Story of Mary Maclane by Mary Maclane is in anyway the result of such winter I hope I never do. I had no idea what to expect when I blew off the collected dust of a century and started reading the ravings of a snowbound 19 year old girl. My first impressions of her was that she thought herself above all other mere mortals but as I reluctantly continued to read I realized that she was suffering from something much more dramatic. A voice in my h ...more
Joe Miguez
The late Bill Hicks used to do a bit in the late '80s where he lamented the rise in popularity of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, and wondered how such attention could be paid to teenaged girls, who obviously couldn't have anything important to say. If he truly believed in the complete vapidity of the American teenaged girl, then it's very likely that Bill Hicks never read Mary MacLane. If he had, his autodidact's sense of snobbery and frustration with the small-mindedness of Joe and Jane America wou ...more
Hayley DeRoche
In the words of Mary MacLane, "Poor little Mary MacLane!"

Her egotism must surely be the weight of an ark. Her genius is self-proclaimed from the rooftops. She is stuck in nowheresville Butte, Montana, and she is 19, and lonely, and despairing, and everyone else's souls are dumb, and she is so very much alone with her own philosophy, and her mad genius, and she is, by the way, 19, just to make things worse. As the forward notes, imagine the tragedy, the utter uselessness, of Napoleon being trapp
It would be difficult to not feel a little intimidated in writing this review when my sister wrote the introduction. Which is of course why I bought it. I mean, I would have been intrigued by the description anyway, and it is from one of my favorite publishers, but with my sister's name on the cover -- it was practically a contractual obligation.

And her introduction was on fire with enthusiasm. It sounded like the kind of book we would have given our eye teeth to have discovered in high school,
This plotless and repetitive memoir from 1901 presents a nineteen year old genius (she claims it, and i believe it) lamenting the daily horror show of her life. Nothing really terrible happens, but MacLane offers us the terror of ordinary days: nothing, nothing, and more nothing. She is isolated from her fellow humans by her genius, and prays daily for one hour of happiness, which she'd be willing to give an eternity fo the devil for. It's a remarkably risky book for small town america,1901, and ...more
This is very bad. I'm sorry- I am more open-minded than most & certainly was excited by all the buzz surrounding this book. Maybe everyone else rating it so highly has succumbed to some intellectual elitist groupthink regarding this "memoir" (unfair to even call it this- it amounts to little more than the self-indulgent ramblings of a very bored, slightly manic teenager and not even in an engaging way) but I cannot find the appeal. I understand that her "feminist" writing was unusual for the ...more
All poor Mary MacLane wanted to do was to get laid and make art. What more could anyone want? Well, in 1900s Montana she couldn't do much of the former, and the latter got her run out of town. How in God's name can a nineteen-year old write like this? I mean, holy fucking shit: "Surely there must be in a world of manifold beautiful things something among them for me. And always, while I am still young, there is that dim light, the Future. But it is indeed a dim, dim light, and ofttimes there's a ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-soon
From Flavorpill: Confessional journalists have people like Mary MacLane to thank for their blunt style of autobiographical writing. The 19-year-old girl from Butte, Montana shocked everyone after publishing I Await the Devil’s Coming in 1902 — she was a self-proclaimed genius that lusted after the Devil, wrote about her desire for other women, and became a best-selling sensation practically overnight.

Yup. Give me that.
The kind of book that seems like it’s going to be tawdry or evil or SOMETHING but it reads more like the tortured diary of Gertrude Stein -- brief moments of lyricism “A little evil would do--a little of fine, good quality.” Stuff like that but it appears randomly and, ultimately, this is a diary of “nothingness” that MacLane says in the last entry, that is no different from the nothingness of the 3 months before or 3 months to come. about 80% of it is MacLane asking for an evil man, a devil, to ...more
Luke Stafford
"The Devil has done me some great favors; he has made me without a conscience, and without Virtue.
For which I thank thee, Devil."

"I am not good. I am not virtuous. I am not sympathetic. I am not generous. I am merely and above all a creature of intense passionate feeling. I feel--everything. It is my genius. It burns me like fire."

- Mary MacLane: The original Riot Grrrl

If you consider yourself a feminist; if you like raw, dark, beautiful, elegiac prose steeped in loneliness, nihilism, frustratio
In a previous review, the reviewer wrote, "I Await The Devil's Coming is a bit like being locked in the bathroom with the drunkest girl at the party who keeps talking at you about her 'pain'." His description was pretty accurate, and at first, I thought it sounded like an interesting experience. However, after 40 pages, I was desperately looking for the key to unlock the door.

I had a hard time connecting with MacLane's writing because I felt like it didn't go anywhere. Her discussions covered th
i feel like I owe all my followers an apology at this point

look here's the thing, my laptop died and i'm dealing with, y'know, being cut off from technology by reading ALL THE BOOKS

(how are you even writing these reviews then you ask? because the blessed almighty god granted me reasonably close proximity to university computers and a general lack of shame at using goodreads where people can see me. i'm a librarian, it totally counts as professional development)

so you know. when will the endless
Living in Butte, Montana in 1902, nineteen-year old Mary MacLane penned her confessional memoir over the course of three months. In hyperbolic phrases and daily descriptions, MacLane charted her intentions, emotions and hopes for happiness. Though it was an immediate success upon publication, selling over 100,000 copies in its first month, I Await the Devil's Coming faded into obscurity until its recent repress.

"I can think of nothing in the world like the utter little-ness, the paltriness, the
Mark Bennett
A grand thank you to one Michelle Dean, she points the way so often, to authors I might have missed had I not found her online: writing, reading, posting, musing, deconstructing.

Mary MacLane? "Of womankind and 19 years." See all of my status updates while reading this marvelous book, splendid gems from this very brilliant young woman bored and hungry for life and love.

I'll finish with another gem insight from this brave and fearless writer, truth rendered, a portrayal unique and idiosyncratic.
Michael Brown
Dec 09, 2013 Michael Brown rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All persons literate
Recommended to Michael by: Melville House
Summary: MacLane's last, deepest book.

To adapt my comment on I Await the Devil's Coming (also published in Melville House's Neversink series): as a long-time researcher and publisher of MacLane's work, I welcome Melville House's publication of this 1917 classic, insufficiently-understood in her time and unsurpassed to this day in communicating the inner reality of a complex, surging, sui generis spirit.

As I remarked in a recent MacLane anthology: MacLane's final book was her testament in every w
Growing up my grandma told me a story of a vagrant who would wander up and down the highway where she lived. "Crazy Judy" became a cult figure to me, as I wondered if I'd ever catch a glimpse of this elusive, weird, and despondent woman walking down the highway with her cat, Maury, who she kept on a leash. I never saw Crazy Judy but I get the feeling she was cut out of the same cloth as Ms. MacLane. 1900's version of "shock jock" notwithstanding, I get the feeling Mary was odd for the sake of be ...more
This story was about a diary of a young lady nineteen years of age living in Butte Montana around 1901. Mary MacLane was an extraordinary woman full of wits, and passionate about her feelings towards nature. Her hatred to her family for being misunderstood about her consciousness, and not being loved by her family due to her individuality, and peculiar being.

Being left behind by one an only friend whom she truly love, the anemone lady. Her words was full of intelligence, and very descriptive fro
“An idle brain is the Devil’s workshop, they say. It is an absurdly incongruous statement. If the Devil is at work in a brain it certainly is not idle. And when one considers how brilliant a personage the Devil is, and what very fine work he turns out, it becomes an open question whether he would have the slightest use for most of the idle brains that cumber the earth.”

Hilarious and raw, but actually rather sad at turns considering how stuck she was at the time of writing this. Her life was so m
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“I am not good. I am not virtuous. I am not sympathetic. I am not generous. I am merely and above all a creature of intense passionate feeling. I feel—everything. It is my genius. It burns me like fire.” 18 likes
“One's thoughts are one's most crucial adventures. Seriously and strongly and intently to contemplate doing murder is everyway more exciting, more romantic, more profoundly tragic than the murder done.” 8 likes
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