The Cambridge Geek

Every Year on My Half Birthday

Time for a spot of micro-fiction, ie a podcast with episodes of less than five minutes length. It's not a wildly common form, unless you're A. R. Olivieri, but it has its place. It's often an interesting challenge to see how much story can be fitted into short stretches of time, and being able to either binge an entire show in an hour, or fit in an episode in a tiny wait for some thing else, makes it very accessible.

I actually did both with this show, having listened to it daily, when it was first released, and now I've just popped back to a re-listen in one big go.

The show follows Lindsey, who records at least one minute of life every year on her half birthday, specifically at 8pm on February 25th. She does this from the age of fifteen, all the way up to thirty three, capturing snippets of her ups and (mostly) downs, following school, university, and work, as well as everything else around them.

It's not always the cheeriest tale. Lindsey could be described as having something of a troubled background, with her father's alcoholism, feuds with her brother and a number of psychological traits with which she is not very comfortable. Her struggles with OCD and generally unacceptable social behaviour, of which we see only a little, drives a lot of the plot, and results in no small number of challenges over the years.

It's mostly a character study, with her changes over approximately two decades being why you keep listening, to see whether she can overcome her intrinsic defects, or will fall into them. I won't spoil you as to which, but I found getting there enjoyable, and even if the ending is a little hyperbolic, it's fairly satisfying. The timing is also cleverly selected to allow it to work its way through what is usual a turbulent branch of life anyway, so the drama makes sense.

While it's ostensibly an audio journal, it's frequently interrupted, by family, partners or friends, who show us hints of her life not improved/twisted by the protagonist lens. It strikes a decent balance of these, with Lindsey being the primary force, but with enough novelty thrown in that it doesn't feel like it's turning into a monologue.

As a final comment though, it is nice to see it purely limit itself to content. This both improves the authenticity of it as a journal, but also avoids the annoyance of hearing a very frequent repeat of some sort of intro/outro. It comes in, tells you a story, and gets out. Nice and punchy.

Score 4

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Cast Personal recording Slice of life Serial