Made by Mary, a novel: a black comedy using magic realism to blow up myths about women, mothers, and motherhood

Made by Mary

Due out in April 2018 with C&R Press. Pre-order now

What people are saying:
“Laura Catherine Brown is a gifted writer, unafraid to take risks and plunge into difficult emotional terrain. You can’t help but root for her flawed characters as they stumble through the broken world, struggling to realize their dreams. Made by Mary is a wise, tragicomic exploration of the complex ties of family, with a little bit of magic thrown in.”
Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke

“A suspenseful and surprising book filled with magic, mothers and daughters unusually entwined in a search for new life; all told in a believable voice, with precisely conveyed detail, and dialogue which conjures up a plethora of characters searching for love.”
Sheila Kohler, author of Dreaming for Freud, Once We Were Sisters, and Cracks

“A wry and compassionate novel about that most inextricable of relationships—the mother-daughter bond. In Mary, a jewelry-making, pot-growing, goddess-worshipping hippie, who claims that she birthed her daughter at Woodstock, Brown has created an indelible and unlikely heroine. About our tenderest sacrifices, and our fiercest desires, Made by Mary is a generous book, and a wise one. Brown understands that, between a daughter’s debt, and a mother’s due, there is a whole territory of resentment, love, fury, devotion, and mutual incomprehension.”
Katherine Min, author of Secondhand World

Made by Mary is a jaunty read about the way we live now. The way we get born, and reborn, and surrogately born. The way we make fun of our foibles and fads without losing sight of what is eternal and earnest: the desire to sustain the species, to love our family no matter how it came to be, no matter how it spirals into the infuriatingly silly or the inimitably sublime. To honor the mysteries of the universe even as we are imperfect in understanding them, yet always always making efforts in that direction, hilariously, devoutly, with heart, and without cease.”
Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once, Nothing Right, and Bound

“Excellent with dope deals, lovers lesbian and otherwise, surrogate motherhood and the unforgettable character of crystal-toting, never-grow-up Mary, Laura Catherine Brown’s Made by Mary is deeply moving. The repercussions of Woodstock have never been so wisely and vividly examined, nor the spectacle of maternal love sonogramed so well between generations.”
Terese Svoboda, author of Tin God and Bohemian Girl, and Pirate Talk or Mermalade

Quickening. In this impressive debut novel, Brown explores a young woman’s emotional upheavals with sincerity and grace. -People Magazine


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In 1985, in rundown upstate Ransomeville, N.Y., Miranda “Mandy” Boyle is preparing to depart for college. Finally, she will be able to escape from her hypochondriacal mother, who crushes Mandy under the weight of her obsessive scrutiny. Once at Albany State, Mandy’s dreams of privacy and the opportunity to reinvent herself are realized, at least in part. But tragedy strikes when Mandy’s father’s dies. An enormously obese barroom philosopher whom she adores, he had been her intellectual mentor, and Mandy thinks that she has been bereft of the wrong parent.

Feeling abandoned and helpless, she resists her nagging mother’s demands to come home and her roommate’s pleas that she get counseling. Instead, she throws herself into the arms of “the one person I didn’t need forgiveness from,” another fugitive from Ransomeville, a drainage ditch cleaner named Booner who convinces her to move into his filthy apartment in New York City. In addition to an office job, Mandy signs up for a photography class, using her father’s old 35-millimeter camera and learning to see her world in new ways. But an unwanted pregnancy seems to presage a future with Booner that for the first time she has the insight and courage to resist. With the nearly Sisyphean task of overcoming her dismal past, Mandy is a heroine worth rooting for. When she recognizes the power of choice in determining her own course in life, most readers will cheer, even if the path she ultimately chooses would not be acceptable to everyone.


Before. America's most acclaimed writers express the confusion, elation, apprehension, and joy of pregnancy and childbirth.

Short Stories About Pregnancy From Our Top Writers
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Mothers and fathers now face the usual anxieties about difficult pregnancies, financial planning, and the inevitable Lamaze classes, alongside new worries about balancing the professional and artistic goals of two independent parents with the responsibilities of parenthood, struggles with fertility and modern fertility treatments, and explaining a pregnancy of an untraditional couple–or a single woman–to family and friends.

In this groundbreaking anthology of short fiction…America’s most popular and critically-acclaimed young writers…give voice to the fear, frustration, hope and humor that all play a part in the simultaneously unique and timeless experience of pregnancy in twenty-first-century America.

Reading these essays is like having a girls’ night out with your best friends—only much, much funnier, and without the hangover the next day.
The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater

21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image, and Other Hazards of Being Female
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Getting undressed for the dreaded seventh-grade gym class. Feeling fascinated with, yet disgusted by, the fashion magazines full of perfect, unattainable bodies. Enduring the pain of a bikini wax or suffering the ramifications of overplucked brows.

Like all women, the contributors to The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater have been there and lived to tell the tale. With laugh-out-loud essays on such topics as the hell of puberty; fashion errors and triumphs; rolls, jiggles, and dimples; the positives and pitfalls of cosmetic surgery; and beauty standards across different races and cultures, readers will feel that they are sitting down with their girlfriends for a funny, honest, and thought-provoking conversation about our complex relationships with our bodies.

With smarts, wit, and style, this collection captures the double bind of beauty and body image that women contend with each day.