Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Review: Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg

Bream Gives Me Hiccups & Other Stories by Jesse Eisenberg
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (September 8, 2015)

Inspired by The End of The Tour, the veteran actor of the screen takes to print to write his fiction debut: a collection of short stories.  In this book, we now know that he can write just as well as he can act.  An author of three plays, Eisenberg's work has previously appeared in both The New Yorker and McSweeney's.

What we have in Bream is a collection of 44 short stories that are hilarious, moving, and inventive.  Eisenberg is able to explore the insanity that is the modern world...or ancient Pompeii if you will.

The unique title comes from the title of the first section, a collection of restaurant reviews as written by a nine-year-old who goes out to eat with his recently divorced mother.  From present day LA, we travel to the dorm rooms of a St. Louis college and ancient Pompeii.  He gives us a world of misfits, reimagines history, and the ridiculous overreactions that some stories may bring us.

One of the funniest pieces is an email exchange from a guy and his girlfriend.  The guy's sister soon takes over the exchange and it goes in a direction where no one even thinks to consider: the Bosnian genocide.

Another exchange sees a college freshman from New York now enrolled at a university in St. Louis.  She's now living with a roommate that steals her ramen.  Upset, she writes her high school guidance counselor in a series of letters.

Eisenberg brings us the first five phone calls from telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Perhaps from having worked with great screenplays in the past and writing plays of his own, Eisenberg has a gift of writing both humor and character.  His writings are grouped into chapters and in doing so, they work better than being collected in a random order.  Eisenberg is funny, self-ironic, and offers readers an original voice in print.

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