*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Bream Gives Me Hiccups
Author: Jesse Eisenberg
Publisher: Bond Street Books
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups moves from contemporary L.A. to the dormrooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, reimagined scenes from history, and ridiculous overreactions. In one piece, a tense email exchange between a young man and his girlfriend is taken over by the man’s sister, who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide (The situation reminds me of a little historical blip called the Karadordevo agreement); in another, a college freshman forced to live with a roommate is stunned when one of her ramen packets goes missing (she didn’t have “one” of my ramens. She had a chicken ramen); in another piece, Alexander Graham Bell has teething problems with his invention (I’ve been calling Mabel all day, she doesn’t pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number – 2!).
I’ve been trying to get a little more into short stories these past few years and I was interested to see what kind of a work Jesse Eisenberg would produce. While I thoroughly enjoyed the opening and title story, “Bream Gives Me Hiccups: Restaurant Reviews from A Privileged Nine-Year-Old,” I can’t say I was too impressed with the rest of the stories. I connected right away with the title story, sympathizing with the character and enjoying his stream of thought, but I felts as though this collection placed it’s strongest story first, and it was downhill from there.
The remaining stories have little meaning, are frustrating, or really don’t align with my own sense of humour. I know Eisenberg’s stories are supposed to be funny, but I don’t think I found myself laughing once. The collection as a whole is disjointed, the stories not flowing into one another or fitting together at all. It seems scattered and it seems to be trying too hard to be comical. The story in particular that that I found frustrating was “My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters From a Freshman.” The humour was cruel and a bit ridiculous and I couldn’t find it funny. Another, “An Email Exchange with My First Girlfriend…” was more like the author venting his own frustrations at an ex-girlfriend. The book as a whole had many stories that seemed angry, rather than funny. I couldn’t connect.