NEW YORK — Jesse Eisenberg understands why most people don’t associate actors with quality writing.
“It’s probably not the most logical link,” says the Oscar-nominated star of “Social Network” and published author, whose debut story collection, “Bream Gives Me Hiccups,” has just come out. “Just by virtue of the idea of acting, it attracts a person who is going to be more social, more comfortable in groups and comfortable on sets and onstage. Writing usually attracts people who kind of avoid those things.”
Actors’ books usually mean chatty, ghost-written and at least semi-confessional memoirs or self-help guides. But Eisenberg and other performers are following a more literary path, publishing in McSweeney’s, The New Yorker and other magazines and releasing fiction, humor and essays that are most certainly written by them.
Mary-Louise Parker has a collection of thoughtful and emotional personal essays out in November, “Dear Mr. You.”
“Anybody who wants to read a book about an actress might be sorely disappointed; it’s not that kind of book,” Parker said.
Ethan Hawke’s third novel, the medieval parable “Rules for a Knight,” is out in November.
Andrew McCarthy of “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “Pretty in Pink” fame has become a travel writer. Tom Hanks’ short story “Alan Bean Plus Four” was published in The New Yorker in 2014, and he has a deal with Alfred A. Knopf for a story collection.
“I don’t see a reason to be skeptical before reading: If a person is talented in one creative art — acting — it doesn’t mean that he or she can’t also be talented in another,” New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman wrote in a recent email.
Eisenberg said he’s been writing jokes since childhood, jotting down material on Post-it notes. He was encouraged to try stories after reading humor sketches by Woody Allen, who also started out as a gag writer.
“He wrote pieces that were longer form and character-based and now he makes movies,” said Eisenberg, who will be appearing in Allen’s next (and currently untitled) film. “It doesn’t rely on just humor. It has pathos and characters and unusual twists that are not funny or not intended to be funny.”
Eisenberg’s book includes variations on modern dating (“A Post-Gender Normative Woman Tries to Pick Up a Woman at a Bar”), sports riffs (“A Marriage Counselor Tries to Heckle at a Knicks Game”) and imagined moments from the past (“Alexander Graham Bell’s First Five Phone Calls”).