Talk about great timing. A week ago, MaryLee MacDonald's latest novel, Montpelier Tomorrow was released. It's a novel about a mother/caregiver who sets aside her own goals in order to care for a son-in-law suffering from ALS. ALS. Yes, the book was released in the very midst of the current viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge craze.
And now, barely a week later, and therefore just in time to add to her well-deserved publicity buzz, MaryLee has won the Jean Leiby Chapbook Award for 'The Rug Bazaar', which I assume will lead to its publication in the Florida Review. If you can't read the small print in the image above, here's the Judge's commentary:
The award is no fluke, and it's not her first. MaryLee earned a Masters Degree in English/Creative Writing way back in the 70's but drifted away from writing as the demands of life intervened. Once her children were out of the house and finished with college, she returned to full-time writing. You can read her full bio here.
The Rug Bazaar is a duet of stories, both of which concern American women traveling in Turkey. Both are love stories, and both seem to fly in the face of everything you'd think a love story could be. These are independent stories, yet, as a pair, they harmonize. In music, we might call this "call and response," how one instrument follows another, and, in following, comments on the first. I'll leave it to the reader to pick the order in which these two pieces might best be read. But, surely, read them both! Much of the beauty of The Rug Bazaar is to be found in the way each story complements the other.
Montpelier Tomorrow has debuted to high praise from readers. As a caregiver herself, MaryLee knows her subject from the inside. As she says,
I ... never thought that ALS would be a subject I would come to know so well. ... Any caregiver, for any long-term debilitating disease, will recognize her or himself in these pages; but, this is not a diary, nor is it autobiographical. I hope it is, as Wordsworth said of poetry, "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility."
Well said, MaryLee. As the sages declare, we make our own "luck", and I have no doubt that the 'alignment' of the ALS Ice Bucket buzz and the release of Montpelier Tomorrow was meant to be.
I look for many more good things coming from this talented author.