Welcome to my review of Bream Gives me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg, an audiobook review of his newest series of essays. Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, Hallie Eisenberg, Annapurna Sriram, Erin Darke, and Colin Nissan, these short essays vary in style, narrative voice and humor, and are loosely tied by the ‘slice of life/issues’ feel of the content.
When I start a collection, I expect that there is some common thread tying the stories together, and while not instantly apparent in Bream Gives Me Hiccups, Eisenberg has managed to take moments of life that present an ‘instant issue’ for the character, whether it be an explanation, a relationship or even a worry.
Multiple moments experiment with different narrative styles: conversations, letters, emails, texts and even a story using reviews all present themselves with a distinct style, solidly appropriate to the ‘style’ of narration.
While I found the stories had flow, it was a collection that required attention: with narrator changes in the writing and presentation, each moment required an adjustment in the listen, and some stories required a second or third listen to absorb the impact.
Narration was from a cast of characters: Jesse Eisenberg, Hallie Eisenberg, Annapurna Sriram, Erin Darke, and Colin Nissan, and while each narrator felt appropriate for their story, the frequent changes in presenter, for me, is a bit unsettled, I prefer not to readjust expectations or concentration with each new moment.
Overall, I liked this curious little collection: the mix of narrative style and form was intriguing and unique, and while I do have favorites (My Roommate Stole my Ramen, Restaurant Reviews from a Privileged Nine Year Old, Marv Albert is my Therapist, My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me) each story brought some humor and humanity into rather awkward moments of life, those moments that bring forward emotions that are puzzling, funny or downright weird
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 3 Story: 4
Title: Bream Gives Me Hiccups
Author: Jesse Eisenberg
Narrator: Jesse Eisenberg, Hallie Eisenberg, Annapurna Sriram, Erin Darke, Colin Nissan
Published by: Grove Press, Audible Studios
Published on: 8 September, 2015
Source: Audible Communications Team
Audio Length: 4 Hours: 28 minutes
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Known for his iconic film roles but also for his regular pieces in the New Yorker and his critically acclaimed plays, Eisenberg is an emerging literary voice. Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups moves from contemporary L.A. to the dorm rooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, reimagines scenes from history, and ridiculous overreactions. In one piece, a tense email exchange between a young man and his girlfriend is taken over by his sister, who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide (This situation reminds be 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!).
In these forty-four stories, Eisenberg combines personal elements with highly imaginative settings, combining tenderness with a tragedy that lurks behind the jokey humor. The pieces, wryly amusing as single stories,become as a whole a touching exploration of the psychology of their protagonists.
United by Eisenberg’s gift for character, and grouped into chapters that open with illustrations by award-winning cartoonist Jean Jullien, the witty and moving pieces collected in Bream Gives Me Hiccups explore the various insanities of the modern world, and mark the arrival of a talented, self-ironic, and original writer.
A copy of this title was provided via Audible Communications Team for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.