It’s My F---ing Birthday

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In her delightful novel, It’s My F---ing Birthday, Merrill Markoe chronicles the life of a single woman fast approaching middle age. Each year on her birthday, this woman addresses the past year, humorously analyzing her relationships and mistakes in an attempt to keep from repeating them. She ends each essay with a list of what she has learned in the past year and what she will attempt to learn in the next year, including something about quantum physics.

The novel starts out on her thirty-sixth birthday, promising to be the same annual disaster as all previous years. Her overbearing and critical parents share every birthday with her, first taking her to a restaurant where her father creates a scene with the waiters. Later, she is given a hideous gift of clothing, which her mother insists she model. The fashion show is followed by the traditional graciously critical birthday toast thus bringing the evening to a lovely end with bitter arguments. To top the fiasco off, on her thirty-sixth birthday she receives a huge floral arrangement from Carl, her ex-boyfriend of seven years, with whom she had just recently had a bitter break-up. The possible meanings of these flowers create a confusing dilemma.

The next seven birthdays follow roughly the same pattern with a few gradual changes. She has more disastrous love encounters, receives her annual confusing bouquet from Carl, and copes with her dysfunctional family situation. In the end, she discovers that she has indeed succeeded in changing many of the hated patterns and has learned to accept those that will never change. She ultimately concludes that there are worse things that being single in mid- life.