Book 69 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from August 28 - 29
Bream Gives Me Hiccups & Other Stories by Jesse Eisenberg
Summary (via 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!).
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.
Before reading I was concerned I'd be too stupid for this book - I had to look up what "bream" was. But it turned out fine, I enjoyed the read and it fit well with my dry sense of humor.
Mini reviews of each section.
I. Bream Gives Me Hiccups: Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine-Year-Old
These were random and thoughtful and really sounded like a little kid would. I loved them and would read an entire book just of these reviews.
Quote: "Adults have spent so many years thinking more and more like each other because the more you live with other people the less you think like yourself and the more you think like them. But kids are new people so we still think more normally. that's why I'm giving Robert Frost Elementary School and Healthy Lunches, Healthy Choices 256 out of 2000 stars."
This section read quickly but veered pretty close to the pretentiousness I was worried about before reading.
Quote: "I'm not telling you who you should date, it's not my business and I respect your "process," but that girl was an ungrateful hussy who never appreciated you."
Okay, no opinion.
IV. My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters from a Frustrated Freshman
Harper was a compelling character that drew me in and I really liked this section.
Quote: "Because the truth is, Miss Rita, some people are destined to be alone forever because they're too disgusting for anyone to actually fall in love with them, but I am destined to be alone forever because I'm too unique and independent minded."
The pickup lines made me laugh and I would read a million more of them.
Quote: "Are you waiting for someone? It's always so awkward to approach a person at a bar and then find out they're waiting for someone else. I was waiting for someone tonight as well, but she never showed. It was my mother, who died in a car accident when I was seven."
This section was really funny too.
Quote: "Ref, are you blind?! If so, it would be amazing that you've been so accurately officiating up until this last play, which, for vantage reasons, appeared to me to be called incorrectly!!!"
IX. We Only Have Time for One More