cover image Raised in Captivity

Raised in Captivity

Chuck Klosterman. Penguin Press, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1792-8

Klosterman (Chuck Klosterman X), in this irreverent collection of what he calls “fictional non-fiction” stories, creates a multitude of clever scenarios, blasting off with the title story about a wild animal found in the bathroom of the first-class section of an airplane, and careering to the final tale about a hapless man spurred on by a nosy neighbor to continue working on a mysterious contraption in his backyard shed. In these 34 stories, most featuring a hilarious denouement, the author takes on racism, diets, cults, white privilege, and life with Trump as president. Standouts include “Execute Again,” which features a philosophical football coach who teaches his team one play—characterized by the narrator as “learning how to foxtrot and moonwalk at the same time,” the results of which are eye-opening; “Of Course It Is,” which explores the banality of the afterlife; and “Pain is a Concept by Which We Measure Our God,” in which husbands can have a procedure to take on the pain of their wives’ giving birth. No matter the topic, Klosterman’s gimlet eye and trenchant prose bedazzle. (July)