I would like you to know that Jesse Eisenberg is making me uncomfortable. His first foray into fiction, Bream Gives Me Hiccups & Other Stories, is a selection of diary entries, child food reviews, letters from a student to an old teacher and many more insights into people, places and unique scenarios. Each new section attacks you with its direct and often overwhelming sense of personal discomfort. But as a whole, it’s pretty funny.
My discomfort extends from the awkward social interactions of both his characters and their reactions to outside forces. One such example is of a student writing to a high school teacher about her brutally honest opinions about her roommate and her transparent judgement. Not only is she a horrible person, but she embraces it as personal growth in her new world.
Additionally a young couple on the verge of breaking up while one is at home and the other is at ballet camp is mediated by an older sister using her college classes as a point of reference. The social unease of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia in 1991 is used to ease the social unrest of young hormones.
Eisenberg’s humor from his novel, at least for me, comes in retrospect. When you’re in the trenches of his novel you’re truly unprepared for what comes next. You take each section as a hit, coming from all sides, until you’re finally on the ground not sure what you’ve just read. But once you dust yourself off and pick yourself up you find the pieces of humor – small at first, but each one growing until you finally see the point. Truly, this is not for everyone.