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 contemptibleness, the degradation, of the woman who is tied down under a roof with a man who is really nothing to her; who wears the man's name, who bears the man's children -- who plays the virtuous woman. There are too many such in the world now. May I never, I say, become that abnormal, merciless animal, that deformed monstrosity -- a virtuous woman."
MacLane’s voice fills every point on the spectrum of teenage emotions, but also writes in passages well beyond her nineteen years. She often flutters in egotistic, self-serving rhetoric; a nineteenth century version of celebrities like Amanda Bynes, spouting off to Twitter followers who are endlessly willing to listen. But unlike today's Twitter mouthpieces, MacLane spends much of I Await the Devil’s Coming dissecting and criticizing the place of women in American society. MacLane writes in a voice meant for another era in both respects, making every page of her short diary a fascinating peek into the life of a young woman decades ahead of her time.