ARC Review: Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg

Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse EisenbergAuthor:  Jesse Eisenberg
Genre: Short stories, humor
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
256 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Grove Atlantic for letting me read this!

I don’t know about you, but anytime I see that an actor or musician or whatever has written a book, I’m pretty skeptical. I’ve read a lot of books by “famous” people that really should’ve stayed on that person’s computer. But I loved Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland, Adventureland, and Now You See Me, and I researched him a bit and saw that he’s actually a playwright as well as an actor. So he had me intrigued, as did the summary of Bream Gives Me Hiccups. I thought, “Why not? I’m probably not going to get approved for this one anyway.” And then I did. And then I read the book. And now I need more from Jesse Eisenberg.

Okay, no, it’s not the greatest short story collection I’ve ever read, but I’m seriously impressed with Jesse Eisenberg’s writing ability. He’s obviously talented, and his stories are intelligent, funny, and well-written. I updated my Goodreads status after almost every story with my immediate and initial thoughts upon finishing each one.

Bream Gives Me Hiccups updates

Note that I used words like “hilarious” with almost every single update. My absolute favorite story was the very first one, “Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine-Year-Old”. It was dry, emotional, and got me so pumped to read the rest of the collection. I do think they did a bit of a disservice by beginning the collection with what is obviously the strongest story, but I don’t even care. I loved this one.

Another favorite was “If I Was Fluent In…” I literally laughed out loud SO hard and loudly that a patron at the library asked me if I was okay. HA! (Not a spoiler, but if you do read, watch out for the Indian section of this story – LOL!) When I read short story collections, I tend to read a story here and there but not straight through. NOT with this one! I didn’t want to stop.

The bottom line: I’ve got to mention that there were a few stories that I honestly wouldn’t have missed had they not been included, but overall, Eisenberg’s collection is seriously funny, honest, intelligent, and engrossing. He’s obviously talented, and I’m looking forward to what’s next from him.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

Waiting on Wednesday: Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse EisenbergPublisher: Grove Press

Author: Jesse Eisenberg

Release date: September 8, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Bream Gives Me Hiccups: And Other Stories is the whip-smart fiction debut of Academy Award-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg. Known for his iconic film roles but also for his regular pieces in the New Yorker and his two critically acclaimed plays, Eisenberg is an emerging voice in fiction.

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!).

United by Eisenberg’s gift for 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.

Why I’m excited: I haven’t seen Jesse Eisenberg’s most famous movies like The Social Network, but I LOVED him in Zombieland and Adventureland. I can’t say I know much about his writing, but this collection of short stories sounds really wonderful – funny, smart, and interesting. I’m always hesitant to read books written by actors/famous people because a lot of the time they’re just given book deals because they’ll sell books, but Eisenberg is actually an experienced author, and I’m really looking forward to trying this one.