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!).
Bream Gives Me Hiccups assembles restaurant reviews, email exchanges and snapshots of conversations. Hardly a traditional short story collection.The title story unites a series of restaurant reviews written by a 9-year-old boy, whose troubled mother takes him along to places just to make his father pay. What I should point out from the very beginning is that for the most part, I found Jesse Eisenberg’s prose to be too … abstruse and somewhat dry and unpolished to be enjoyable. Eisenberg is praised for humor and irony I mostly failed to appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, Jesse Eisenberg certainly is a talented writer, he just isn’t a writer I would be likely to appreciate. I will remain a devoted admirer of Jesse Eisenberg’s acting talent, however, his literary prowess failed to charm me.Bream Gives Me Hiccups turned out the least enjoyable short stories collection I have read thus far, it also happened to be a book that received ravenous reviews which I don’t particularly agree with. Release date: September 5, 2015. Overall: 3*