Bream Gives Me Hiccups: And Other Stories
Grove Atlantic, 2015
“I realized something new about the world. I realized that I would be able to live in the world and that I would be okay on my own.”
In Bream Gives Me Hiccups, Jesse Eisenberg presents a collection of stories ranging from a privileged nine-year-old’s reviews of high-end restaurants, to these prescription notes from a dad to his son, to a letter from a hilarious teenager about her roommate who happened to have stolen her ramen. In this book, Eisenberg reveals all the characteristics that make millennials unique and funny and deep and lost: their great regard of themselves, the need to be involved and their love of the internet, all of this written in a voice that is both wise and clueless. In short, the book presented us as what we truly are: lost but finding our way home.
The book (and Eisenberg) asks the readers to be open to his various cultural references some of which readers might know, some they might be confused about. But this is part of the book’s charm. Inspite of these cultural references (or maybe because of it), the book offers a different reading experience, funny yet irritating, uncomfortable to read yet deep, because of the simple reason that is so effing good. That’s just that.
As with the privileged nine-year-old, we rated some of the stories in the book out of 2000 stars:
My Prescription Information Pamphlets as Written by My Father
Rate: 1542 out of 2000 stars
This story contains several prescription notes written by a father to his son including the usual information: brand/generic name, class, common use, side effects and instructions on what to do in case of an overdose. Pretty much ordinary except from these notes:
(Medicine: Ativan) In Case of Overdose: drink several ounces of water, which comes out of the faucet and could be used to wash dishes.
(Medicine: Adderall) Side effects: may be habit forming. In the same way lateness, dressing like a teenager, and not sending your mother birthday cards might be habit forming.
(Medicine: Zoloft) Side effects: this medication causes severe erectile dysfunction. And beyond any concern for your tawdry sex life, your mother would like grandchildren…and with your sister currently gay, you’re the last Mohican.
You’ll be laughing until the very end of the father’s notes, which mirrors some of the millennials of today who happened to (still) live under their parents roof and just write some stuff about talking chimpanzees, hoping to be famous one day. For the vicious comments of the father, for his honesty and the style of the story, I give “My Prescription Information Pamphlets as Written by My Father” 1542 out of 2000 stars.
My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me
Rate: 1123 out of 2000 stars
This one is about a mother and all the typical motherness we all experienced from our mother growing up (and until now). If the first one is vicious and honest, this one cry for every mothers out there to read it, and examine themselves or just stop talking would be good too. Or maybe just stop pretending to like social gathering stuff, calling your girlfriend “ungrateful hussy” or worse looking at some guy’s penis after calling him adonis, or much worse compare you to some other more successful guy. Just stop. For the brutal portrayal of every mothers out there (and please make them read this story) I give “My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me” 1123 out of 2000 stars.
My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters from a Frustrated Freshman
Rate: 1950 out of 2000 stars
Into the first few paragraphs of the story and I immediately disliked Harper Jablonski, the freshman girl who was obnoxious, narcissist, entitled, mean and close-minded (and every bad thing you could imagine). Not to mention her footnotes which were really, really irritating. It started when she wrote to this Miss Rita, her high school counselor, about her roommate who stole her ramen. But halfway through the letters readers will realized that we are in some ways, like Harper, which was a scary thought. And while we laughed at all her antics (including her daydream with a boy in a class leading to plans to have a family with him), we would also come to somehow read all our actions and thoughts on Harper’s. And while that was pretty depressing and would in some level shake your unshakable conscience, we also find comfort from the fact that there’s a Miss Rita in our lives. We may not listen to her advise immediately but in the long run we would know what’s right and what’s not, hoping that we would someday be okay. For these reasons, I am giving “My Roommate Stole My Ramen: Letters from a Frustrated Freshman” 1950 out of 2000 stars.
“I had a nervous excitement in my belly, like when you’re waiting to see who’s going to be kicked off American Idol.”
Carmelo Anthony and I Debrief Our Friends after a Pickup Game at YMCA
Rate: 976 out of 2000 stars
This was a fun read. I do not know if this is true with all celebrities or just some, but it reflects the great divide between stars and ordinary people and how we, ordinary people, view events when we saw our favorite celebrities in public places, in this case, in a pickup game. It’s fun to see someone famous and to play ball with him? That is some story you need to post or tells your friends. ASAP. The differing reality of Carmelo Anthony and this fan, as written by Eisenberg, is a little bit like being slapped in a face while still smiling. If it made you uncomfortable, then you know the effect the entire book, not just this story, gives: to show us the uncomfortable truth. And so I am giving “Carmelo Anthony and I Debrief Our Friends after a Pickup Game at YMCA” 976 out of 2000 stars.
PS: I am a Spurs fan. Go Tony Parker!
Nick Garrett’s Review of Rachel Lowenstein’s New Book, Getting Away
Rate: 544 out of 2000 stars
The style and the viciousness of the review in this another story is as brave as Eisenberg can get without sounding sexist. In this story, Nick Garrett reviews a novel of a woman who is so much into women empowerment and all that that she forgot to bother to take a look on men’s feelings. This is the case of what is happening now. In our rush to defend the rights of others, we sometimes forget the other side, and their rights and feelings too, their current situations and how we could make this world a better place, not just for women, but for men too. For this simple yet brave attempt of an opinion lost in the noise of this world, I am giving “Nick Garrett’s Review of Rachel Lowenstein’s New Book, Getting Away” 544 out of 2000 stars.
Bream Gives Me Hiccups: Restaurant Reviews from A Privileged Nine-Year-Old
Rate: (In deference to the privileged kid, we’ll give no rating on this one)
To read the reviews of a nine-year-old about the food (and expensive food at that) that he tried in some fancy restaurants with her mom is a delight, but to read all his insights in life as he tried to review those restaurants, is, for lack of better word, cool.
I noticed that the kid gave stars not based on the food and how it tasted, or the way the waiters served them, but on his realization of things and stuff (about her mother, her friend, her dad’s new family). To read those lessons from a kid would not be off because here Eisenberg summoned his inner child and tell the readers all these things he wanted to say through the eyes of a nine-year-old. What resulted is a review which is fun and heart-warming and simple.
“Every relationship has a kind of pattern, I guess, and maybe the pattern is more important than the stuff that makes up the pattern.”