She waited on tables as usual that day, her twentieth birthday. She always worked Fridays, but if things had gone according to plan on that particular Friday, she would have had the night off. At just over 40 pages it can read in the time taken to eat a slice of birthday cake. It has the hint of a modern fairy tale to it, the story ending with a vaugeness that allows the reader to interpret it in their own way. The difficulty with reviewing such a short story is that there is the potential to simple re-tell the tale and thereby spoil the book for any potential audience. There is a craft to short story writing, setting the scene, creating character connections and telling the narrative arc in a limited number of words. Here the characters could be imagined, the scene too.
The Birthday Girl
A few months ago, I was speaking to a friend about her reading habits when we came upon the subject of genres. A different genre altogether. A little while later, I encountered my first Murakami short story. This short story utterly confused me when I first read it, as I could not follow who the narrator was, when it switched from past to present, or what the point of the story was. I also love clarity, so the open ending left me uneasy and feeling sort of incomplete. Yet, partly because I have to study it as a part of a syllabus, and partly because of the worldwide acclaim this author has, I read and re-read it until I could make a little more sense of it. I then read up on it online, and now I finally have some more clarity.
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Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. If you have ever closed your eyes, blown out the candles, and made a wish on your birthday, someone probably told you that if you tell anyone what you wished for, it won't come true. If you were good at keeping that secret, you will relate to the main character in Haruki Murakami's Birthday Girl.
Not only do they have those lingering questions after reading the final paragraph, but it leaves them wanting more Murakami. Leave it to Murakami to take something as ordinary and mundane as a birthday it happens to everyone — everywhere — every single year and tease out the mystery, nostalgia, and intrigue for readers of all ages. In the introduction to the birthday anthology, he self-identifies as one of the nameless, numberless children born in the world-wide baby boom following World War II. Acknowledging the very ordinary ways in which his generation ages, he writes,. These seemed like meaningful developments at the time, of course, and they may well have exerted some practical influence on my own life. Looking back now, however, I have to say in all honesty that these events do not seem to have had any special effect on the way I balance happiness vs. However many birthdays I have may have counted off, however many important events I may have witnessed or experienced first hand, I feel I have always remained the same me, I could never have been anything else. Wise words, here.