Actor Eisenberg pokes fun at our relationships to the past, each other, and ourselves in his debut collection.
These humorous stories are arranged into thematic sections like “Family,” “Sports,” and “Self-Help.” The first, fourth, and final sections—each consisting of a single, stand-alone piece—are not only the longest, but the strongest as well. The eponymous opening consists of a series of restaurant reviews by a precocious 9-year-old. He critiques a whiskey bar, an ashram, and other non–kid-friendly spots where he makes cute-but-true observations about the adult world. The story transcends this premise as the narrator’s personal life comes into view. His mother’s sadness permeates almost all their meals, and his most powerful insights are those aimed at his own life. Yes, he notes after a Thanksgiving with vegans, “it’s really sad the way that animals are killed,” but it’s sad that his parents are divorced, too. He concludes, “I guess that there are a lot of sad things in the world and sometimes eating turkey with the people you love makes you happy and maybe it would make the turkey happy to know that this was happening with its body.” In “My Roommate Stole My Ramen," Eisenberg uses the same winning formula. The narrator's privileged perspective leads to fleeting moments of humor, but her small and complex moments of growth are what leave a lasting mark. A few stories powerfully highlight absurdities, but many others are just plain absurd. “A Post-Gender-Normative Woman Tries to Pick up a Man at a Bar” is stale and predictable; “Marv Albert is My Therapist” plants the joke in the title; and “A Marriage Counselor Tries to Heckle at a Knicks Game” tells that same joke but reversed. These pieces read like stand-up more than story, lacking in character and emotional depth.
Twenty-eight short pieces that are always playful but rarely profound.