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It's My F---ing Birthday: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Merrill Markoe
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“In the coming year,” she said, hoisting her blindingly clean and gleaming glass into the air, “may half of all your dreams come true.”

“Mom,” I said to her, “isn’t that kind of pathetic?”

“Well, it’s realistic.”

It’s her thirty-sixth birthday, and she really thought things would be different this year—that she’d have figured out men and how to get along with her narcissistic parents enough to survive a birthday celebration. But nothing’s changed. Her disappointing day is capped off by the delivery of a huge bouquet of flowers from Carl, with whom she has recently, and bitterly, split. A gesture of reconciliation? Of passive aggression? She’s too unhinged to tell.

It’s My F---ing Birthday unfolds in seven state-of-my-life addresses this hapless high school art teacher writes to herself on consecutive birthdays, as she is determined to break the patterns of behavior that are keeping her down. Her objective: to avoid making the same mistakes over and over and start making some new ones. Through seven outrageously funny years of needling parents, self-absorbed boyfriends, riots, O.J., and Monica—and bigger and bigger bouquets from Carl—she navigates a circuitous (and ultimately successful) route to happiness in a world where everything seems to conspire to the contrary.

What I Learned This Year That I Need to Remember

1. No more taking the bait from Mom. Even if the fight becomes about not taking the bait.

2. No more dwelling in the past.

3. Try much harder to continue being a vegetarian. This will limit the restaurants the folks can take me to.

4. No more trying to decode the flowers from Carl. If he sends them again, just think of them as a fun, free thing, like a little sample box of cereal or detergent that suddenly appears in the mailbox.

5. Don’t make a big deal out of the fact that there were no guys this year. Perhaps that’s a better thing than continuing to get involved with guys who exhibit behavior from the beginning that indicates the whole thing is completely hopeless. So try to remember the above as a coping strategy when I am so crazed with horniness that I want to throw myself off a building.

6. No more mumbo jumbo. This means no more calling 900 astrology numbers listed at the end of horoscopes in women’s magazines to find out my love forecast. And no more going to psychics, no matter how dicey things get.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

On the first page of It's My F---ing Birthday, the unnamed narrator initiates a new tradition: every year she will write "a personal state of the union to help me chart my profits and losses." We get these annual reports in chapters, from "Thirty-Six" to the concluding "Forty mmmmppphhh." In between lie several years of angst-ridden dating and parental torment in the already hallowed tradition of Bridget Jones's Diary. There are two differences: author Merrill Markoe, who spent many years writing for David Letterman (and collecting many Emmy awards), has a considerably darker comic vision than Helen Fielding. And she also resists the temptation to pair her narrator off in the service of a happy ending. In fact, this is one woman who finds out she's happier on her own: "One great thing I have noticed about living all by myself: All of my annoying habits seem to have disappeared." --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

Who can say, with a straight face, that every birthday they've ever experienced has been the perfect occasion, with every wish granted and all dreams fulfilled? Certainly not Markoe's nameless single Anywoman, who begins journaling her yearly observations with hilarious dedication when her ex, Carl, surprises her with flowers on her 36th birthday and her parents' traditional celebratory dinner turns out to be yet again an experiment in terror. In this veteran comedy writer's first novel, seven special birthdays are analyzed with increasing insight and joie de vivre guaranteed to make this the perfect gift for all women who face birthdays with grim determination, pepper spray and sharp fingernail files. Each year, Markoe's protagonist, an L.A. art teacher, carefully writes down "What I Learned This Year That I Want to Remember" and charts her attempts to stay out of "the Hole," the place where hapless "smart, fun, attractive women in their late 30s and upward" fall into "whining, moaning, hoping for escape," keeping the reader nodding in wry agreement. Witty, biting observations include: from her 36th birthday, "No more voluntary participation in bad sex"; from her 37th, "No more shopping with Mom"; from her 38th, "Don't make a big deal out of the fact that there were no guys this year"; from her 39th, "When you have never loved at all, at least you have enough attention span left to get some reading done" and "Never continue to interact with someone who cannot define the word `soon.' " Markoe teaches the joy of laughing through pain and bubbling through toil and trouble. (Feb. 19)Forecast: As a multiple Emmy winner and the original head writer for David Letterman, the author should have no trouble promoting her book on the talk-show circuit or her five-city author tour.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 319 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812967240
  • Publisher: Villard; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU8E1Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,486 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book should NOT be compared to Bridget Jones' Diary-that's an entirely different animal. Yes, it is about a single woman, but this book does not have the zippy, Brit hipness about it found in Helen Fielding's book. What it does have is one of the most hysterical descriptions of bad sex I have ever read. "It's My F---king Birthday" explores exasperating relationships with parents, getting older and staying single, and finding self-contentment.
Some reviewers criticize Markoe's writing as lazy, and while I get the distinct impression that this short novel wasn't something she toiled over, that doesn't mean you should enjoy it any less. It is not a deep read, and if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for something funny and poignant, check it out.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rings very true. July 7, 2002
By A Customer
I was under the impression this book was going to be hilarious, but I actually found it to be quite dark and depressing. That's because to me, the still-single 30-something (and then 40-something) character with the hyper-critical, absolutely unhelpful parents is all too familiar to me. The author really set down a realistic picture of a woman's single life. I especially liked the "dumb girl" inside the lead character, that little voice that keeps egging on an otherwise smart and successful woman to find a man, to date men she's not attracted to, to make the best of a bad relationship because of this idea that we're all supposed to be with someone - anyone. Because maybe the "illusion of progress is as good as progress" (a concept introduced by the character's mother). And the birthdays - it was a relief to find an author who understands the strength a person needs to keep smiling when she's in her 30s and spending her birthdays with two clueless parents who wonder why you're not married while they're sitting there arguing and being completely loveless. Yikes. This book gave me the chills! Single women - it's not that funny, but that's the beauty of it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My F---ing Birthday February 25, 2002
By A Customer
I really enjoyed this book. I think I liked it best, because, unlike Bridget Jones, the humor and instances were culturally specific to Americans, so you had a deeper connection with the author's experiences. I also liked the fact that the book focused on an older woman's relationship with her parent's and her continuous attempts to preserve a positiove relationship. Also, unlike most "thirty something" books, the author had a real job and was not in a glamerous profession (ie: magazine editor, TV show host, public relations, ect..) she's an art teacher.
The only draw back is that the book can get very slow at times, so you probably won't finish it in a day or two. The reader will find the most enjoyment by reading a few pages every night.
Overall, I would give it a thumbs up and would say it is worth buying in hard cover.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mind of the Unmarried Woman May 5, 2002
Hard to believe such a "chick" book could have such guy appeal. I found this book on my wife's nightstand and had to pick it up, just cuz of the title. I had to laugh because I too know all these guys that the narrator runs into year after year - they're my buddies!! But to hear it from the other side was hilarious - nothing more talented than a writer who can make you laugh at yourself. The narrator's encounters give further proof to the testament that men are from mars and women are from another...universe!!! A fun, witty quick bedtime read.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so funny February 27, 2002
By A Customer
... and kinda pathetic. This was touted to me by Amazon (2 days before one of the big "0" birthdays) as like Bridget Jones. It's not. The only good feeling I got out of this book was that I am not as screwed up as the narrator (what is her name??? Imagination failure?) Like the other reviewer, I sensed a dark depressive undercurrent, mostly from her horrible parents. We know so little about this poor woman, and it's too much anyway. Okay, I did finish it but the ending was lame too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Think You Have The Parents From Hell? May 24, 2002
By Dave
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dave Barry, David Sedaris, and Cynthia Heimel all make me chuckle, but Merrill Markoe makes me scream with laughter until tears run down my cheeks. Yes, her humor is dark, mordant, and bitter but nobody uses sarcasm better. Perhaps we are just on the same wave length. I have loved all her collections, but this, her first novel, may be the funniest thing she has written so far.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Hoped for Fun Read. Didn't Get It. April 11, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm kind of shocked that a seemingly brilliant woman who produced all those hilarious man-on-the-street segments for David Letterman would spend so much energy on all this whining. I don't think that's how she intended it to come off to her readers, but it does. I can understand a 14 year old being conflicted about reprimanding parental authorities or confronting someone with whom she was emotionally attached for 7 years, but a 38 year old professional woman? It's just annoying. Therein lies the problem: no sympathy for the protagonist. Merill Markoe came to my attention as the girlfriend of David Letterman and it is hard not to imagine that the "Carl" in this novel is not him. Frankly, the totally detached behavior of Carl is probably justified. Both Carl and the protagonist of this novel are stuck in a permanent emotional state of adolescence. The kindest thing they ever did for each other was to detach. It's true the protagonist brings some baggage into all her relationships in the guise of her parents. Okay, they're awful; but it would have been funnier if the parents were more than cartoon embodiments of all things the daughter despises. The protagonist is pushing 40 and still unable to tell her mother not to buy her clothes because they have different tastes? Worse, she can't tell her parents to be more civil in restaurants? She can't tell her father that she is uncomforable with his floozies? Why not? That's why she can't find a boyfriend. She needs to grow up first!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars So funny
The name kinda made me think twice about getting this book, but i love the other books the she has written so I decided to give it a try.. So glad I did... Read more
Published 8 months ago by pastime
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading it now - LOVE IT!!!!!
Merrill Markoe is a wizard!!! My husband and I are really enjoying this book, we're almost done and it's great. And the seller got the book out fast and it's in perfect shape. Read more
Published 20 months ago by C. Sanders
2.0 out of 5 stars Misses the Mark
I bought this book thinking that the author had some respectable comedy chops. Sadly this book is just not that funny and as this was my primary reason for purchase I was... Read more
Published on September 30, 2012 by Betty Bovine
3.0 out of 5 stars Good way to spend a weekend
What a quick read! This book is witty and light. The main character, whose name remains a mystery, has the worst relationship with her parents and even more unlucky romantic... Read more
Published on February 19, 2009 by Chiclet
2.0 out of 5 stars Humorous
The book read quickly and the author is gifted at humor.

The insights into the main character's life were interesting and entertaining. Read more
Published on September 8, 2008 by Living thru the Pages
4.0 out of 5 stars She's awesome
Merrill Markoe is hillarious! This book is a great pick-me-up. I enjoyed this book very much and passed it on to my family. READ IT! :)
Published on November 6, 2007 by Amber L
5.0 out of 5 stars Merrill Markoe writes funny
Markoe is one of the funniest writers ever. This book is written well and is hilarious. I love the structure, too--every chapter the main character is one year older.
Published on October 10, 2007 by Fish mama
5.0 out of 5 stars Single girls dating & mother angst done in comedy form
I found this to be the funniest book about dating and being single that I have ever read. I have re-read this book over & over, recommended it to my friends, bought them their own... Read more
Published on January 6, 2007 by Letsdnce34
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughed my head off
I don't know if it's because my sister, the day before I started this book, had the exact same experience of dining with our parents or what, but when I woke her at 2 am to read an... Read more
Published on July 26, 2006 by L. Bean
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun little quickie
Approaching my upper thirtysomethings, I read this book with an "Amen, Sister!" frame of mind and knowing full well that I was not in for anything overly cerebral. Read more
Published on July 16, 2006 by Mamagogo
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More About the Author

Merrill Markoe graduated from UC Berkeley with a masters degree in art, then went on to use her degree in the most pragmatic way possible by becoming a writer of comedy for assorted venues, including television, movies and magazines,(when there still were magazines.) Along the way she won five Emmys for Late Night with David Letterman and a Writer's Guild Award for HBO's Not Necessarily the News.These days she is STILL writing books and making short films. To learn more than you probably need to know about her, visit And when I say "her", I mean "me." As far as I can tell, I'm the only one writing this.

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