Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Bream Gives Me Hiccups, And Other Stories by Jesse Eisenberg

Bream Gives Me Hiccups
And Other Stories
by Jesse Eisenberg

Hardcover, 288 pages
Publisher: Bond Street Books

There is something special about this Jesse Eisenberg kid.

I am not exactly tuned in with popular culture, and most of the faces on the tabloids are lost on me - but I have seen a couple of movies with Eisenberg in them and have to admit that I would now see one just because he has a role in it.

His dry, mystified but keenly intelligent straightman humour cracks me up. And I guess you have to be fairly learned to pull that off. But I had no idea just how learned and accomplished he was. Writing for some of the world's best publications, writing plays, starring in plays. This is one talented fella.

There is something about him that draws you in. He adapts well to his roles and yet somehow is also always himself.

The same goes for his writing. You hear his voice and humour in every passage. And laugh.

This is a treasure of a book. Quick to read and quick to make you laugh. A lot.

There is some repetition in the stories, which, by the end, I figured was intentional. Like a hook in your favourite songs.

Take this book wherever you need a happy. Commuting, long lines, avoiding that certain someone.

Guaranteed to make you smile.

From the Back Flap:

From Academy Award-nominated Jesse Eisenberg comes a collection of hilarious stories that tackle the modern world from multiple yet equally absurd and poignant points of view.

     The series of stories that gives the book its unusual title are written from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy whose mother brings him to expensive Los Angeles restaurants so that she can bill her ex-husband for the meals. One story in the "Bream Gives Me Hiccups" series begins: "Last night, Mom and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at a Vegan family's house, which is kind of like going to Temple for Christmas. Mom said that Vegans are 'people that don't eat any meat or cheese or shave.'" Another series of stories are letters written by a university student to her high school counselor as she grows gradually more unhinged. Other stories imagine discussions in ancient Pompeii just before the volcanic eruption, explore the vagaries of post-gender-normative dating in New York City, and conjure up Alexander Graham Bell's first five phone calls: "Have you heard anything from Mabel? I've been calling her all day, she doesn't pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number--2!" Plus there is an email exchange between a boy and his girlfriend taken over by his sister who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide, an ex-husband reviewing his wife's book online, and Marxist-Socialist jokes, including: "What do you get when you cross a Marxist with a Socialist? Two people who generally feel that the value of a commodity is equal to its socially necessary labor time." In different ways, the stories explore what it means to navigate the modern world, and are all illuminated by Eisenberg's ironic wit and fantastically funny and original voice.

Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg
has appeared in the films 30 Minutes Or Less, The Social Network (Oscar nomination), Holy Rollers, Zombieland, Adventureland (BAFTA nomination), The Squid and The Whale, and Roger Dodger. On stage, he has appeared in Orphans opposite Al Pacino, Scarcity at The Atlantic Theater, and Asuncion at The Cherry Lane, which he wrote. He is also a contributing writer for McSweeneys and his humor essays have appeared in Harpers and The New York Times.