Birthday Stories is an anthology selected and introduced by Haruki Murakami. The only reason I borrowed the book is of course because Murakami’s name is printed on that book. I’m trying to read all his works because he is my number one Japanese author. Beside his name on the book, I was also curious of what kind of story would Murakami like.
There are 13 short stories related to birthday in this book, 12 of them are written by western writers and only 1 story is written by Japanese writer, which is Murakami himself. Murakami also writes a brief introduction for each writer in this book.
Here are the summary of every short stories in this book: The Moor by Russel Banks; it tells the story of a man who encountered an older woman who once had an affair with him. Dundun by Dennis Johnson; it’s a story of a man named Dundun who killed someone on his birthday. Timothy’s Birthday by William Trevor; it’s about a birthday party prepared by Timothy’s parents, but Timothy sent his friend to come instead of himself (I make a teaser out of this story> here). The Birthday Cake by Daniel Lyons; it’s a sad story of an old woman, alone and forgotten by her children. Turning by Linda Sexson; it’s about 3 old ladies who came to a boy’s birthday party and told him a story of The Emperor Who Had no Skin. Forever Overhead by David Foster Wallace; I don’t know what it is about because I stopped reading it after 2 pages.
Angel of Mercy, Angel of Wrath by Ethan Canin; a story of an old woman whose birthday was forgotten by her own son, but someone else come and gave her what she wanted. The Birthday Present by Andrea Lee; it tells the story of a wife who gave her husband a couple of whore for his birthday present. The Bath by Raymond Carver; it’s a sad story about a boy who laid in the hospital bed on his 9th birthday. A Game of Dice by Paul Theroux; another sad story of a man who has an unusual wife. Close to The Water’s Edge by Claire Keegan; it’s a story of a man who lived in lies. Ride by Lewis Robinson; a story of a boy who took a ride with his father on his 16th birthday. Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami; A girl who had to work on her 20th birthday was suddenly given one wish…a wish that will come true.
I have read Haruki Murakami’s birthday Girl in his collection of short stories, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman. And it was one of my favorite stories in that book.
Overall, I find Birthday Stories as a bit unusual. I like the fact that he didn’t just choose the happiest story because most people think that birthday is one of the happiest days of one’s life…but some of the stories are to boring to read. Forever Overhead is one of the most boring short story I have ever read…I couldn’t even finished reading it. Although some are very interesting.
Somewhere in the middle, I wanted to stop reading and picked up another book…but I managed to finish it after all. Maybe I’m not the kind of person who enjoy reading a collection of short stories written by many authors (take example of The Dark House…I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish it). It was fun to read many authors in one book but it’s also a risky act because somewhere between all those stories, we might stumble upon an extremely boring or annoying stories. And the variety of writing style also gives a sense of lost.