This review was written by: H and B
Received: ARC from the Publisher
Publication Date of Book: September 8, 2015
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
"Everyone’s a geek in some way or other. Everyone’s an outsider.”
Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups moves from contemporary L.A. to the dorm rooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, re-imagined 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 the Bosnian genocide; 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'be been calling Mabel all day, she doesn't pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number - 2!)
United by Eisenberg's gift of humor and character, and grouped into chapters that each open with an illustration by award-winning cartoonist Jean Jullien, the witty pieces collected in Bream Gives Me Hiccups explore the various insanities of the modern world, and mark the arrival of a fantastically funny, self-ironic, and original voice.
Our Thoughts:This book was an ingenious combination of satire, hilarity, and life lessons. From the viewpoint of an innocent nine-year-old to that of a mad man obsessed with killing his ex-fiancé, this widely amusing and attention-grabbing book has everything any person with a sense of humor could ask for. Jesse Eisenberg successfully makes any circumstance that would normally be completely and utterly embarrassing or mortifying into the type of situation that anyone can laugh at, regardless of where you are at in life.
While my sister and I were reading this book, we both found different parts to be our favorites. My favorite was the first story Bream Gives Me Hiccups, Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine-Year-Old. The child in this story has such depth to his thoughts that one would assume he was much older than only nine. It was very easy to believe that this is how children think. The little boy saw both the ups and downs of life and accepted them as truth, all while looking beyond for something more, something lurking just below the surface of life itself. This story is an example of how Eisenberg is not only a gifted comedic presence, but also someone who has the talent to go beyond laughs and really make a person question both themselves and the world around them. To put it more simply, he is a touching writer who implements heart, laughing the whole way. Not to mention, Eisenberg is a very relatable author, appearing to have lived through at least a handful of the experiences written about in his book. I (H) also found My Roommate Stole My Ramen, Letters from a Frustrated Freshman to be very amusing, given the fact that I had a roommate similar to the one the main character writes about (of course without the nickname and the craziness of the girl writing the letters but still, I found that part to be very relevant to my own life).
My sister’s (B) favorite story was Separation Anxiety Sleepaway Camp because of the confusion surrounding the story that finally made sense in the last portion, causing her to go back and reread it four more times (even our mother found it drop-dead hilarious). Trust me, this is one that you need to read, especially when you are having a bad day. Two other favorites were My Little Sister Texts Me with Her Problems and My Nephew Has Some Questions. Both of these stories are ones that can be revisited several times, without the laughs ever ending.
What really makes this book diverse is the different mediums used by Eisenberg. Not only is it written in short story format, but also in text form, which allows for an almost play-write feel. Plus, the footnotes were awesome (a little frustrating to read, but it only added to the amusement we felt during that particular story). Not only is Eisenberg a great actor who we both love to watch, but he has proven himself to be more than that. Admittedly we were hesitant to read this book, but we can proudly say that Jesse Eisenberg has seriously proven us wrong and for that we are grateful. If you have not seen any of his movies or did not even know he was an actor (shame on you! ☺), you will definitely be a fan by the end of Bream Gives Me Hiccups.
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