Marylee MacDonald

Award-winning author and writing coach

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Bonds of Love & Blood


My short story collection, Bonds of Love & Blood, was published in January, 2016 by Summertime Publications Inc.

Here's what reviewers have said about the book:

Tight, interesting, and evocative, these are stories that surprise and delight.
—Molly Giles, author of Rough Translations and Creek Walk

In an uncertain world, the characters in these stories of love, loss, and redemption all share a longing to connect. Young men seek a path to success or sabotage themselves. Mothers try to help their sons, but find their maternal instincts at odds with their children’s need to make their own decisions. Fathers sacrifice personal happiness for the well being of their children, and couples are challenged to stop battling for control if their relationships are to survive. These elegantly crafted stories brim with emotional wisdom and eloquence. Bearing you around the world, they will imprint themselves, deeply, indelibly, upon your heart.
—Melissa Pritchard, author of Palmerino

In stories linked by themes of journey and displacement, the landscapes of Marylee MacDonald’s excellent collection, Bonds of Love & Blood, span Turkey’s Saklikent Gorge, a murky swimming pool in Vera Cruz, the maze of a beggar’s apartment building on the outskirts of Prague, and a Maine farmhouse during an ice storm, with each character backed up “right against the precipice,” as the twelve stories investigate the limits of relationship when the will of one person is determined to prevail over another.
—Adria Bernardi, author of Openwork, a novel, and Dead Meander, essays

People who avoid short fiction in favour of novels may complain that too much is left out or too much is compressed into a small space. Marylee MacDonald's splendid collection is an antidote for both objections. Like two virtuoso short story practitioners named Moore--Newfoundland's Lisa and America's Lorrie--MacDonald masterfully reveals exactly what we need to dwell memorably with her characters at decisive crossroads and to revel in the prime benefit of short fiction: imagining her characters' prior lives and the outcomes of their crises. Her fiction takes us on a Mexican holiday with an abusive husband and his wife and daughter and to an encounter between a young male tourist and a trans-gendered tourism worker in a Southeast Asian resort. We are with Anna searching for her vanished son in Prague, an African American Vassar grad arrested in a Baltimore bar, and Leslie when her workaholic-scientist husband Ashok brings his widowed Indian mother to live with them in Ontario. MacDonald's savvy understanding of human relationships, and her lucid, vibrant, and ruggedly poetic prose, make for riveting stories you both can't put down and must pause at length between, imagining what came before and what comes next.
—Richard Lemm, Shape of Things to Come, Burning House, Four Ways of Dealing with Bullies, English Dept., University of Prince Edward Island,

The vivid, visceral stories of Bonds of Love & Blood explore continents and cultures, but also the often-greater distance between human hearts. Rich and compelling, beautifully rendered, MacDonald dares to question which is the greater, more unsettling risk: the alluring intimacy of foreign terrains, or the intimate dangers of domesticity?
—Tara Ison, author of Rockaway, The List, and Child out of Alcatraz

Tender and wry, Bonds of Love & Blood is a full-hearted, wide-ranging collection of stories. MacDonald captures the everyday tyranny of domestic life, at home and abroad. College failures, overbearing mothers, tyrannical fathers, they’re all here. Cranky and long-suffering, her characters remind us of our universal and contradictory longing for solitude and for connection. Savor this book. Enjoy being in the hands of a generous and visionary writer.
—Eileen Favorite, author of The Heroines

The twelve stories in Bonds of Love & Blood present unforgettable portraits of people crossing out of love's dangers into its greater dangers, out of limited self-recognition into painful new and unlimited self-discovery, out of hopeless suspension and impossible connection into vulnerable hope and tender communion. Marylee MacDonald writes with wisdom and patience and dramatic power in presenting converging inward and outward journeys. At each turn, the imaginative storytelling guides you into the riddling hearts of people who appear to be out of options but become ready to learn to try again.
—Kevin McIlvoy, author of Hyssop, Little Peg, and The Fifth Station

'The Pancho Villa Coin" is an absorbing and troubling read. A young girl, exploring both interior and exterior landscapes, struggles, alongside her mother, to love and survive her explosively alcoholic father. The story manages to soak the reader in a pleasingly foreign atmosphere while building a feeling of threat.
—Michael Signorelli, Editor, HarperCollins and Judge for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Short Story Competition

Driven by the best intentions of his family, Walter drifts from jobs and through life without a clear sense of what he wants. The birthmark on his face scars more than his skin alone. On a trip to Thailand, he confronts a realization about his own happiness. His genuine, awkward, almost tender interaction with The Lady provides him with another perspective on how to deal with the hand one is dealt in life. I wondered what Walter would do when he returned home, having met someone willing to go through extremes to feel, perhaps even become, whole. Matt Clark Prize winner Marylee MacDonald tells the story, "Almost Paradise," with great sensitivity.
—Ronlyn Domingue, Judge for the Matt Clark Prize, New Delta Review

"'Break" is a road and work story, and a times-are-tough story, and you feel yourself pulled along with these characters, feeling for both men, employer and employee, even as the former makes tough decisions and the latter is tempted by a better offer. Good, clear writing and an earned ending make this a story to read and reread.
—Tom Franklin, Judge for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Short Story Competition

Selected Works

FICTION
Prize-winning short stories for arm-chair travelers and readers willing to explore the intricacies of the human heart. For more about the book, click the title.
A wrongful arrest and a weekend in jail are a wake-up call for an African-American man who thought his education protected him from police brutality.
The Rug Bazaar features two unconventional love stories. Winner of the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Contest.
A novel about a mid-life mom who would do anything to protect her children from harm.
CREATIVE NONFICTION
The true story of a fifteen-old girl's journey to motherhood.
A short personal essay about identity, writing, and adoption.
ESSAY
What does the world think about America in the aftermath of 9/11?