Bream Gives Me Hiccups
And Other Stories
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.
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.
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.
"Eisenberg's perversely dark sense of humor gives the stories bite . . . a brisk, approachable read. . . . A confident step forward for Eisenberg as a writer." —USA Today
"Eisenberg has some wicked fun with limousine liberals, the young and overly educated, and others from demographic groups in urgent need of satire. Yet he does so with surprising compassion and a deep feeling for the pain of human disconnectedness—between families and their children, lovers and their partners (or would-be partners) and random strangers." —Chicago Tribune
"Bream Gives Me Hiccups provides something for everyone. . . . Eisenberg has an excellent command of language, along with an engaging wit expressed through vivid characters . . . a delightful combination of emotional depth and satire." —Winnipeg Free Press
"Bream Gives Me Hiccups is funny and poignant, a darkly comic look at family, insecurity, and, briefly, Cameroonian separatism." —National Post
"This isn't a James Franco situation where he's trying to pass off his Snapchats as performance art. Eisenberg is a truly talented writer. . . . Hilarious and poignant." —Entertainment Weekly
"Actor Eisenberg pokes fun at our relationships to the past, each other, and ourselves in his debut collection. . . . humorous . . . always playful." —Kirkus Reviews
"The debut story collection from actor Eisenberg is a quick, witty read. . . . Hilarious . . . Eisenberg's brand of comedy is frequently compared to Woody Allen's, and it's easy to see why—the stories are populated with neuroses, highly difficult people, anxious mothers and therapists; all seem to function in the same self-contained New York universe. . . . Charming, deftly written and laugh-out-loud funny." —Publishers Weekly
"Jesse Eisenberg's hysterical and exciting stories come in the form of email exchanges, conversations in parks and late night drunken speeches. A little boy's restaurant reviews capture the ridiculous, inappropriate and tender relationships between single mothers and their children with an honesty that will bring tears of laughter to your eyes. Eisenberg explores the disturbing ineptitude with which we live our lives, the terrible advice we give to family members, the burden that we place those we love and how wonderful, wonderful it all is." ―Heather O'Neill, bestselling author of the award-winning Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
"Jesse Eisenberg is a deeply original comic voice. These stories are about the funniness, sadness and strangeness of everyday life and they really made me laugh." —Roz Chast, author of Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
"I've been a fan of Jesse Eisenberg's plays for years and his prose is just as winning. Bream Gives Me Hiccups is hilarious, poignant and at times so self-deprecating it makes me want to give Jesse a hug. He's taken decades of neurosis and spun it into comedy gold." —Simon Rich, author of Ant Farm
"Brilliantly witty, deeply intelligent and just plain hilarious. If David Sedaris wrote about Carmelo Anthony, Bosnian genocide and ramen-stealing college freshmen, it would probably come out something like Jesse Eisenberg's Bream Gives Me Hiccups. A moving portrait of human beings at their weaker moments and a wonderful send-up of the insanities of modern America." —Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
"A remarkable book by an immensely talented writer." —Andy Borowitz, author of An Unexpected Twist
"Bream Gives Me Hiccups isn't merely comic writing of the first order; it's an often tender, highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that encompasses everything from Chomsky and iek to disastrous pickup lines and pubescent neuroses. Jesse Eisenberg writes with formidable intellect and verbal dexterity, but he also has something many deadeye satirists lack: empathy with his targets. To borrow his most unforgettable character's line, you'll want to give his debut collection 2000 out of 2000 stars." —Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Johnny Valentine
From the Hardcover edition.