I know that Christmas is still over a week away but last night I received my first book of the season…and that, I think, is a litblog-worthy event!
Actually, I tell a bit of a lie, because last week I was sent, by a very kind internet bookgroup friend who knows my likes, the British Library Jane Austen appointment diary for 2010. It is gorgeous, containing Regency era images, silhouette images, and quotes from Jane Austen (from her books and letters). Being an appointment diary it notes standard public holiday dates, but being a Jane Austen appointment diary it also records dates important to Austen’s life – such as the poignant (possibly!):
January 15: I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy (from letter to Cassandra)
It is a lovely diary and I shall treasure it way past its expiry date (that is, past December 31, 2010).
And now to the book I received last night. It is Birthday stories, an anthology of thirteen short stories “selected and introduced by Haruki Murakami“. (The givers knew that I like Murakami.) The book was originally published in Japanese, Murakami having both selected and translated the stories from English, but was later published in English with “a specially written introduction”. The stories all deal with birthdays and are by such luminaries as Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Paul Theroux, and William Trevor – as well as by Murakami himself. Each story has a brief – and delightfully personal – introduction by Murakami.
In his introduction to the anthology, Murakami writes that his inspiration for compiling the anthology:
was my consecutive reading of two outstanding stories that happened to be based on the theme of birthday: “Timothy’s birthday” by William Trevor and “The Moor” by Russell Banks. … Both stories left me feeling haunted.
I imagine that there will be various interpretations of “birthday” from the day of one’s birth to those days in which we celebrate our own or the births of others. I rather like themed collections of short stories, and so am looking forward to reading this book – perhaps by dipping into it over time rather than reading it all at once, so you’ll probably hear about it as I go.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking that if these are the sorts of gifts arriving before Christmas, some wonderful delights must be in store for me when the day itself arrives! After all, you can never receive too many books for Christmas – can you?
Haruki Murakami (ed)
London: Vintage Books, 2004