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Microdoses of the straight dope, stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection, from the best-selling author of But What if We're Wrong? A man flying first class discovers a puma in the lavatory. A new coach of a small-town Oklahoma high school football team installs an offense comprised of only one, very special, play. A man explains to the polic Microdoses of the straight dope, stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection, from the best-selling author of But What if We're Wrong? A man flying first class discovers a puma in the lavatory. A new coach of a small-town Oklahoma high school football team installs an offense comprised of only one, very special, play. A man explains to the police why he told the employee of his local bodega that his colleague looked like the lead singer of Depeche Mode, a statement that may or may not have led in some way to a violent crime. A college professor discusses with his friend his difficulties with the new generation of students. An obscure power pop band wrestles with its new-found fame when its song "Blizzard of Summer" becomes an anthem for white supremacists. A couple considers getting a medical procedure that will transfer the pain of childbirth from the woman to her husband. A woman interviews a hit man about killing her husband but is shocked by the method he proposes. A man is recruited to join a secret government research team investigating why coin flips are no longer exactly 50/50. A man sees a whale struck by lightning, and knows that everything about his life has to change. A lawyer grapples with the unintended side effects of a veterinarian's rabies vaccination. Fair warning: Raised in Captivity does not slot into a smooth preexisting groove. If Saul Steinberg and Italo Calvino had adopted a child from a Romanian orphanage and raised him on Gary Larsen and Thomas Bernhard, he would still be nothing like Chuck Klosterman. They might be good company, though. Funny, wise and weird in equal measure, Raised in Captivity bids fair to be one of the most original and exciting story collections in recent memory, a fever graph of our deepest unvoiced hopes, fears and preoccupations. Ceaselessly inventive, hostile to corniness in all its forms, and mean only to the things that really deserve it, it marks a cosmic leap forward for one of our most consistently interesting writers.


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Microdoses of the straight dope, stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection, from the best-selling author of But What if We're Wrong? A man flying first class discovers a puma in the lavatory. A new coach of a small-town Oklahoma high school football team installs an offense comprised of only one, very special, play. A man explains to the polic Microdoses of the straight dope, stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection, from the best-selling author of But What if We're Wrong? A man flying first class discovers a puma in the lavatory. A new coach of a small-town Oklahoma high school football team installs an offense comprised of only one, very special, play. A man explains to the police why he told the employee of his local bodega that his colleague looked like the lead singer of Depeche Mode, a statement that may or may not have led in some way to a violent crime. A college professor discusses with his friend his difficulties with the new generation of students. An obscure power pop band wrestles with its new-found fame when its song "Blizzard of Summer" becomes an anthem for white supremacists. A couple considers getting a medical procedure that will transfer the pain of childbirth from the woman to her husband. A woman interviews a hit man about killing her husband but is shocked by the method he proposes. A man is recruited to join a secret government research team investigating why coin flips are no longer exactly 50/50. A man sees a whale struck by lightning, and knows that everything about his life has to change. A lawyer grapples with the unintended side effects of a veterinarian's rabies vaccination. Fair warning: Raised in Captivity does not slot into a smooth preexisting groove. If Saul Steinberg and Italo Calvino had adopted a child from a Romanian orphanage and raised him on Gary Larsen and Thomas Bernhard, he would still be nothing like Chuck Klosterman. They might be good company, though. Funny, wise and weird in equal measure, Raised in Captivity bids fair to be one of the most original and exciting story collections in recent memory, a fever graph of our deepest unvoiced hopes, fears and preoccupations. Ceaselessly inventive, hostile to corniness in all its forms, and mean only to the things that really deserve it, it marks a cosmic leap forward for one of our most consistently interesting writers.

30 review for Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Chuck Klosterman is back and he’s more Klosterman-y than ever in his first collection of short stories, Raised in Captivity! I’m a big fan of Chuck’s but this book was just... fine. There was one really good story called Of Course It Is about a man who’s self-aware enough to know he’s in a dream or a character in a story or in the afterlife but doesn’t seem to care. It was a fun, very compelling and subversive look at the short story format, particularly Twilight Zone-type stories. That’s not to Chuck Klosterman is back and he’s more Klosterman-y than ever in his first collection of short stories, Raised in Captivity! I’m a big fan of Chuck’s but this book was just... fine. There was one really good story called Of Course It Is about a man who’s self-aware enough to know he’s in a dream or a character in a story or in the afterlife but doesn’t seem to care. It was a fun, very compelling and subversive look at the short story format, particularly Twilight Zone-type stories. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the other stories but I noticed that, though there are cool and interesting aspects in some of them, they’re not as well rounded from start to finish – they start slowly or end abruptly just as you’re invested in what’s happening. Execute Again is about an unusual football coach who has his team run one play only all season long but it proves to be mega-successful and then he suddenly retires; afterwards every member in the team becomes hugely successful professionally, though in jobs not sports-related. Not That Kind of Person is about a woman who wants to kill her husband so she hires the “ultimate assassin” who talks exactly like Chuck Klosterman and presents her with an amusingly effective, if time-consuming, method of assassination. Rhinoceros is about a man reconnecting with an old friend who’s become a digital outlaw who’s found a way of permanently deleting Wikipedia entries. The Secret is about a secret government experiment where scores of people are flipping coins all day repeatedly – apparently tails comes up 51% of the time instead of 50% which means the universe is unravelling! That one had the best ending. They’re well-written stories though occasionally you can tell Chuck used to be a music critic. In Never Look At Your Phone - where a dad playing with his kid in the park is asked by the other mothers there, as he’s the only man in the park, to tell a weirdo in a bright orange jumpsuit sat on a nearby bench eating fruit and talking to the kids to leave – the weirdo is described as “unshaven and a bit slovenly, but not to the level of Aqualung.” It’s not the simile most would make! Toxic Actuality is a wry look at the current state of hyper-PC college campuses; Blizzard of Summer is about a band whose latest innocuous song has become a surprising hit with white supremacists; Slang of Ages is about some producers commissioning ideas for a TV show/podcast; the Dave Eggers-esque titled To Live in the Hearts of Those We Leave Behind Is Not to Die, Except That It Actually Is is about a dying CIA agent spilling the beans on state secrets. I won’t go through them all but there’s a bunch of imaginative stories here I liked with lots of great dialogue and funny moments and ideas. That said, there’s about as many I haven’t mentioned that were dull, unimpressive and instantly forgettable! Obviously your mileage may vary – you may love some of the ones I didn’t mention and hate the ones I liked – but I think Kloster-fans, as well as fans of short fiction, will find enough here to enjoy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    [2.5 stars] Weird. Some good weird, some just...weird weird? My biggest issue was most of them just felt underdeveloped. I imagine he had a bunch of shower thoughts and went, "Those would make great stories!" Maybe he drafted a few of them, then 'polished' them off later. Then that was it. I wanted them to go further, to say something—instead the stories felt like someone telling you a facsimile of their iPhone notes in 'fictional' form and ending with, "What'd ya think about that, huh?" [2.5 stars] Weird. Some good weird, some just...weird weird? My biggest issue was most of them just felt underdeveloped. I imagine he had a bunch of shower thoughts and went, "Those would make great stories!" Maybe he drafted a few of them, then 'polished' them off later. Then that was it. I wanted them to go further, to say something—instead the stories felt like someone telling you a facsimile of their iPhone notes in 'fictional' form and ending with, "What'd ya think about that, huh?"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    In his first collection of short stories, Klosterman takes the genre by its word and offers us 34 (!) really short texts, most of them build around one single idea or event that he explores with a narrative twist. Due to this concept, there is not much development and we also don't encounter elaborate poetic concepts, but the reader can always find something original and clever in those vignettes. A panther in an airplane bathroom, a medical procedure that transfers the pain of giving birth to t In his first collection of short stories, Klosterman takes the genre by its word and offers us 34 (!) really short texts, most of them build around one single idea or event that he explores with a narrative twist. Due to this concept, there is not much development and we also don't encounter elaborate poetic concepts, but the reader can always find something original and clever in those vignettes. A panther in an airplane bathroom, a medical procedure that transfers the pain of giving birth to the father, a secret government facility in which people and machines are flipping coins all day - Klosterman has come up with some really weird scenarios, and I am always here for writers with strange ideas. Frankly, I did expect to love Klosterman, because I guess I am the target demographic here: This is a Minnesota-born, pop culture savvy writer of German descent who made a documentary about James Murphy entitled "Shut Up and Play the Hits" - now that should by my kind of author. But while I liked reading this collection, it didn't really grab me and left me a little detached and cold. I'm surprised that Klosterman generally evokes such strong emotions among reviewers - I found his writing to be aggressively meeeeeh. "Raised in Captivity" certainly is a smart and playful read, but the stories lack urgency and poetic depth - then again, I am pretty sure Klosterman is not here to throw a po-mo extravaganza, and that he wants his texts to be cool and catchy like a pop tune, which is exactly what these stories are.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Benoit Lelièvre

    If you've ever wondered what Chuck Klosterman thinks about social media, gender politics or or any other hot button topic he's been cleverly avoiding for all these years, it's all in this bad boy. The short stories of Raised in Captivity are a lot more dense and will make you work harder than Klosterman's essays. It's perhaps the closest he's ever been to David Foster Wallace. But nonetheless, his mind is a more democratic place than Wallace's and even if he employs didactic allegories (which I u If you've ever wondered what Chuck Klosterman thinks about social media, gender politics or or any other hot button topic he's been cleverly avoiding for all these years, it's all in this bad boy. The short stories of Raised in Captivity are a lot more dense and will make you work harder than Klosterman's essays. It's perhaps the closest he's ever been to David Foster Wallace. But nonetheless, his mind is a more democratic place than Wallace's and even if he employs didactic allegories (which I usually hate), the purpose of every story eventually reveals itself without having you clawing your head open for answers. Raised in Captivity is like a coded discussion between initiates. Don't expect Klosterman to take position on any of your favorite battle-axe issues without any of his trademark nuance and detachment. But this book answers questions fans like me have been asking themselves for years now. It's an incredible act of generosity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter Colclasure

    I love Chuck Klosterman. His essays about music and pop culture, primarily, but I also enjoyed his first two novels. This is his first book that I didn't care for. It's advertised as fictional nonfiction, which means it's a collection of short stories that explore different ideas about reality. The problem is that they don't quite work as stories, and they don't hold interest as ideas. As I wrote elsewhere, Stephen King is the master of premise, even if he can't always wrap that premise up in a I love Chuck Klosterman. His essays about music and pop culture, primarily, but I also enjoyed his first two novels. This is his first book that I didn't care for. It's advertised as fictional nonfiction, which means it's a collection of short stories that explore different ideas about reality. The problem is that they don't quite work as stories, and they don't hold interest as ideas. As I wrote elsewhere, Stephen King is the master of premise, even if he can't always wrap that premise up in a bow and bring it to a tidy conclusion. The stories here suffer from the Stephen King problem writ micro. Each one has an interesting premise, but it doesn't get developed or give the reader a reason to care. There are no fully developed characters, and stories are more scenarios than stories. It would have been better if Klosterman had just written, "What if there was a secret government lab where they had people flip coins and realized that tails was coming up 51% of the time rather than 50% of the time?" Rather than write a story about it. Here are my thoughts: Raised In Captivity I thought this story was a bit whimsical and trite. A man finds a puma in the bathroom on an airplane. Rather than inform the stewardess, he gets into an existential conversation with the man seated next to him about what is real and how we can know. Execute Again Kind of liked this story about a football coach who has his team execute a single play over and over again. I thought it was funny. Though I wasn’t clear on how the defense would work. When you score, you have to kick off to the other team. Toxic Actuality Topical. Asks what are we to make of hyper-PC campus culture, and the answer is to shrug, that’s just the way things are. How Can This Be The Place? The most plausible story so far. Funny. “No one deserves anything, everything is negotiable, and I need to take a shower.” The Truth About Food Pseudo-science brain candy. Every Day Just Comes and Goes A man refuses to accept the inevitability of time-travel. Blizzard of Summer Intriguing premise. Sorta funny. Doesn’t go anywhere or achieve resolution. Of Course It Is Sounds like a nice afterlife. I guess heaven or hell depends on your perspective. Skin Oh man, this was a missed opportunity. The twist should have been that the girlfriend had been to the restaurant before, with a man with whom she was having an affair, and eating the duck previously, and that’s why she was crying. The Perfect Kind Of Friend This is a metaphor for something, but I’m not sure what. Cat Person Silly in a boring way. Experience Music Project Not about the museum in Seattle Pain Is A Concept By Which We Measure Our God The most interesting aspects of this technology were only explored as an aside, in the last few paragraphs. Not That Kind Of Person Totally implausible. Darkly funny. Rhinoceros Weird. The Enemy Within This story will be painfully dated in 10 years. The Secret The universe is unraveling and coin flips are coming up tails 55 percent of the time and a secret government lab is trying to figure it out. This one was kind of fun to ponder. Trial And Error Maybe a metaphor for belief in God or something? A Trick Is Not An Illusion Ties into a previous Klosterman theme, what’s more impressive an amazing magic trick that is just an illusion, or a boring magic trick that is actually magic? Flue A whale gets struck by lightning. If Something Is Free The Product Is You I liked this story. Money isn’t everything. But everything is money. Never Look At Your Phone I don’t get why the guy didn’t want to look at his phone. Reality Apathy Sounds plausible. Reasonable Apprehension Completely absurd. Just Asking Questions I wished the characters in these stories talked like real people. To Live In The Hearts Of Those We Leave Behind More weird questions without answers. Tell Don’t Show For a guy who uses the word specific a lot, some of these stories are a bit vague. Slang of Ages Seems like a framing device used to cram a few half-baked ideas into one story. Slow Pop Again, too short and undeveloped to care about anyone. I Get It Now I don’t get it. The Power of Other People In Klosterman’s previous book, I Wear The Black Hat, he argued that the bad guy in the room is the one who knows the most but cares the least. Somehow this story has something to do with that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I began Raised in Captivity wondering why Chuck Klosterman wrote a short story collection and found myself wondering why short fiction exists at all. After all, who really reads short stories anymore? So I came up with some pretentious theories about why people still write short fiction, putting aside the obvious answer that sometimes people just want to write short stories. Here they are. First, writers use short stories as training to become novelists. In short fiction, writers practice paragra I began Raised in Captivity wondering why Chuck Klosterman wrote a short story collection and found myself wondering why short fiction exists at all. After all, who really reads short stories anymore? So I came up with some pretentious theories about why people still write short fiction, putting aside the obvious answer that sometimes people just want to write short stories. Here they are. First, writers use short stories as training to become novelists. In short fiction, writers practice paragraphing, character development, plotting, etc. without investing very much time. I imagine that novels are more lucrative (relative to short fiction), but they take more time and are a bigger risk to a developing writer. Second, established authors publish short stories when they have a backlog of ideas that can’t be developed into novels. Due to their established audience they can still turn those stories into a marketable product. Third, short fiction is a vehicle for expressing emotions and ideas in a way that’s less time consuming than novels but not quite as free/ demanding as poetry. Fourth, short fiction works well for clever thought experiments, not so different from Ted Chiang’s stories. Because Ted Chiang’s stories are pretty cool, people want to emulate him and we’ll soon see many writers of non-fiction trying their hand at short stories. Which of these theories explains Klosterman’s Raised in Captivity? Maybe it's worth summarizing the premise of the opening story. The hero finds a puma (a mountain lion) in the first class washroom. The story is a vehicle for speculating about how a puma came to be on an airplane. No ultimate explanation is given because the story is prefers speculation to explanation. The first theory, training, doesn’t apply. Klosterman has already written two novels, Downtown Owl and Visible Man. The established author with an unusable backlog theory applies. These stories feel like they’ve been practiced at dinner parties and they (remember the puma) wouldn’t work as novels or even as essays. The third theory, that short fiction is a vehicle for expressing emotions, applies. Several of the stories are about longterm relationships and existential crises. (I especially enjoyed one line about a woman who, although she claims to wish her husband shared his feelings more, realizes that she finds her husband annoying when he shares his feelings more.) Unlike the puma stories, which reveal wit, these existential stories capture the enduring disillusion felt by Gen Xers (“insane” appears a few times to describe ordinary but somewhat confounding events). As for theory No. 4, although I don’t know that Klosterman wants to be like Ted Chiang, he does enjoy thought experiments. The “fictional non-fiction” collated here recalls the thought experiments Klosterman includes in many of his essays but they are presented without argumentative structures. Maybe there is another option: expectations of the form offer a shield unavailable to essayists. Although I’m not sure how I’d prove this, I suspect there’s less expectation of writers to explain the urge to write fiction. Essays and argument, however, almost always invite interrogation into motive. A few stories here tentatively tease progressives, but I doubt Klosterman wants his thoughts on the culture wars to go viral--or that he wants people to begin deconstructing any stance he has about progressives. If he were to write an essay, rather than a short story, he’d have to put more cards on the table and more money in the pot. The form offers a sort of distance (e.g. "I just thought that line would be funny"), or plausible deniability (e.g. "the character thinks progressives can be pretentious, not me"), that must be attractive. Also, aren’t essays about midlife crises a sort of cliche naval gazing? I wonder if those feelings seem less indulgent if they’re dressed up as short stories. Regardless, Raised in Captivity is nearly as fun as Klosterman’s essays, these stories are very short, and it’s not every day one finds a good excuse to read short fiction in 2019. Recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    After much thought, I feel comfortable in declaring that Klosterman is the author I most enjoy reading. He’s not my favorite writer, nor is he the best I routinely read. This will probably change, but it will also change back the next time Chuck releases a book. I own all of his books, and have never reread one of them. I am never tempted to do so. I feel they are perfectly consumed with one through and thoughtful reading. I know I have written this before, but I don’t know if I like what he writes After much thought, I feel comfortable in declaring that Klosterman is the author I most enjoy reading. He’s not my favorite writer, nor is he the best I routinely read. This will probably change, but it will also change back the next time Chuck releases a book. I own all of his books, and have never reread one of them. I am never tempted to do so. I feel they are perfectly consumed with one through and thoughtful reading. I know I have written this before, but I don’t know if I like what he writes because we think a like, or if I like what he writes because he himself has framed the way I think. It’s probably a bit of both.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    One of my favorite things about Chuck Klosterman is that when he has a new book come out, he usually appears on a handful of podcasts. Here's a quick back and forth, paraphrased, from one of those interviews: Chuck: I was trying to write a set of stories that were exactly 1000 words apiece. Interviewer: That sounds like a very Chuck Klosterman thing to do. Chuck: Well, I am Chuck Klosterman. This book seems like a departure, but it's not. Imagine the hypothetical questions from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa One of my favorite things about Chuck Klosterman is that when he has a new book come out, he usually appears on a handful of podcasts. Here's a quick back and forth, paraphrased, from one of those interviews: Chuck: I was trying to write a set of stories that were exactly 1000 words apiece. Interviewer: That sounds like a very Chuck Klosterman thing to do. Chuck: Well, I am Chuck Klosterman. This book seems like a departure, but it's not. Imagine the hypothetical questions from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, but narrative-ized. A little more world is built around them, and you get a better sense of the strangeness of the scenarios. But that's what the stories are more like: scenarios. They aren't traditional short stories where some stuff happens and people feel ways about that stuff (sidebar: I love short stories, but I think I just wrote the most apt description of them ever). They start as a premise, explore the premise a bit, and then usually leave things hanging. Sometimes in service of exploring a deeper question, sometimes not. Sometimes they're a little Twilight-Zone-y with a twist, and sometimes not. In the same interview, Klosterman said, no bullshit, this was the most fun he had writing a book since the first one, and I believe it. Because it's some of the most fun I've had reading him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Doherty

    Brilliantly effortless; if you love Chuck Klosterman - and you should :) you'll love this too! Fresh, smart, and subjective as the author himself. I could easily imagine each story continuing, growing, and developing as he naturally does - but I was equally content as well, which felt even better when reflecting on each story. These rich, thoughtful, and immersive pieces are for fans of his early work, as well as new fans of intelligently witty writing. Galley borrowed from the publisher. Brilliantly effortless; if you love Chuck Klosterman - and you should :) you'll love this too! Fresh, smart, and subjective as the author himself. I could easily imagine each story continuing, growing, and developing as he naturally does - but I was equally content as well, which felt even better when reflecting on each story. These rich, thoughtful, and immersive pieces are for fans of his early work, as well as new fans of intelligently witty writing. Galley borrowed from the publisher.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lorri Steinbacher

    If you like stories that are quirky and odd but strangely relatable nonetheless, you will find everything you’re looking for. If you’re a Klosterman fan, this is peak Klosterman, you will find everything you’re looking for. The stories make you laugh out loud and also think, but without all that postmodernism or some other MFA nonsense that you often have to wade through in a lot of short story collections. Full disclosure: I skipped the sports-ish one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jim Beatty

    I was just telling your brother that his sonic aesthetics latenly promote inclusion, and recognize intersectionality, and that he decterously seized through the institutionalised facade that dictates musicians must play their own instruments and write their own material in order to galvanize relevancy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I've been hearing a lot about this book lately. Some have said it's a work of quirky genius while others describe it as something more akin to mental flatulence (brain farts). I stand firmly in the middle ground but tilt more towards the latter. There are 34 short stories in this collection, many of them just a few pages long, none over 10 or 12 pages. I found a few of them really interesting and profound. There were also a few that I found to be almost completely incoherent. The majority of the I've been hearing a lot about this book lately. Some have said it's a work of quirky genius while others describe it as something more akin to mental flatulence (brain farts). I stand firmly in the middle ground but tilt more towards the latter. There are 34 short stories in this collection, many of them just a few pages long, none over 10 or 12 pages. I found a few of them really interesting and profound. There were also a few that I found to be almost completely incoherent. The majority of the collection was... well, something to read, I guess. My first instinct with something like this - a title that has received glowing reviews more often than not but didn't have much of an impression on me - is that I just didn't "get it". That I am too old, clueless, uncool, ignorant, or whatever to understand the nuance of what the author was trying to do. While that may indeed be the case here it seemed that many of the stories were simply a combination of incomplete thought experiments or random paragraphs haphazardly dropped in from space or perhaps various alternate realities. They never made any kind of sense to me. To be fair, I came in thinking that the designation "fictional nonfiction" meant it was a collection of " too strange to be true but too true to be completely fiction" kind of tales one might find in a collection of Florida Man-type stories. Off-the-wall or oddball characters in wacky predicaments. My expectations were for something a little more tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps with some apocalyptic sci-fi or some such. That it wasn't what I had expected is my fault not the author's. My recommendation for other readers, considering what a mixed bag this collection proved to be, is to check it out at the library rather than purchase it. You'll probably find something to like in a few of the stories but it's doubtful that for the average reader the purchase price will be comparable to the overall reading enjoyment. ***Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Lamb

    Disclosure: I received an ARC from Penguin House. Each story in this collection is a brief exploration of something philosophical or thought-provoking. Some examples: A football coach who begins the season with lectures on Kierkegaard; a band is flummoxed when their innocuous power ballad becomes a white supremacist favorite; a new procedure allows pain to be transferred to the husband. You will be reminded of Etgar Keret or maybe even the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, although Kolsterman's distinct Disclosure: I received an ARC from Penguin House. Each story in this collection is a brief exploration of something philosophical or thought-provoking. Some examples: A football coach who begins the season with lectures on Kierkegaard; a band is flummoxed when their innocuous power ballad becomes a white supremacist favorite; a new procedure allows pain to be transferred to the husband. You will be reminded of Etgar Keret or maybe even the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, although Kolsterman's distinct critical eye is still dominant. Each story is surreal and weird and wonderful. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to be slightly amused, a little perplexed, and always thinking.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Burd

    A great collection of short stories that I’d recommend to anyone. Klosterman has a way of putting thoughts into words that I’d never be able to manage myself, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see these thoughts so elegantly dictated on paper in front of me. Each story drags you into its own little world, and is utterly captivating. My only complaint is the stories are too short... but I guess they’re called short stories for a reason... plus Klosterman’s style. Some stories are better left unfi A great collection of short stories that I’d recommend to anyone. Klosterman has a way of putting thoughts into words that I’d never be able to manage myself, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see these thoughts so elegantly dictated on paper in front of me. Each story drags you into its own little world, and is utterly captivating. My only complaint is the stories are too short... but I guess they’re called short stories for a reason... plus Klosterman’s style. Some stories are better left unfinished/ open ended/ left to the imagination, I suppose. A great, quick #QuarantineRead.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Will Ashton

    Typically, whenever I decide to read Chuck Klosterman's non-essay related work, I know that I shouldn't expect the same high tier that I've gotten from such wonderful, formative books like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Fargo Rock City, both of which have played a tremendous hand in shaping the writer I am (and hope to be) today. As much as I love Klosterman, I know that fiction hasn't been his strong suit in the past, though I do appreciate that he continues to tackle it. And especially so aft Typically, whenever I decide to read Chuck Klosterman's non-essay related work, I know that I shouldn't expect the same high tier that I've gotten from such wonderful, formative books like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Fargo Rock City, both of which have played a tremendous hand in shaping the writer I am (and hope to be) today. As much as I love Klosterman, I know that fiction hasn't been his strong suit in the past, though I do appreciate that he continues to tackle it. And especially so after reading his latest book, Raised in Captivity, which is the author's third and latest attempt at fiction —and undeniably his best. In fact, much to my surprise, I believe I liked this book even more than I enjoyed his last two releases, which is saying something, considering how much I enjoyed his previous collection of essays, Chuck Klosterman X. With his eleventh book, however, Klosterman finally seems to nail the bridge between fiction and non-fiction (dubbed here "fictional nonfiction") that has often alluded him in his early attempts outside of essay writing and pop culture analysis. The stories here are often absurd, sometimes in an annoying forced way, but also typically filled with thoughtful and fruitful intricacies, which allow the microscopic-loving author to really flourish his love for the pesky, nitty-gritty details. There is sometimes a consistency to how the stories branch out. But more often than not, Klosterman is quick to spice up each entree with unique characters, dynamic premises and outlandish perspectives. His blend of obsessive mixed with his desire to make some truly bizarre stories provides some rich comedy and hearty subversions, while Klosterman's intricate attention to detail and petty annoyances result in richly realized and wonderfully thoughtful collections, often providing me with a desire to see each story continue and feeling disappointed when they would end abruptly — until I get absorbed with the next story. Not every story matches up to their predecessor, but I was surprised by how few of them I considered to be outright misses. I enjoyed nearly all of them, even if I didn't find all entirely satisfying, and the premises for each substory spark a large amount of wit and inspiration for our exploring author. Most of them are comedic and rewardingly humorous, but I was also surprised by how poignant some of them ended up becoming by the end. My personal favorites included a story where a middle-aged guy almost painfully agonizes over the mundane pleasantness of his perceived hell or another story where a character witnesses something so miraculous (a whale being struck by lightning) that he questions his reality. But I'm likely to be an outliner (based on what few reviews I have seen for the book so far) in thinking that this is a great step forward for Chuck Klosterman, and I would love to see him do another book like this one in the future. I feel like I really mesh well with Klosterman's way of thinking, and this book made for a great companion with Raphael Bob-Waskberg's Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justin Martin

    I've never read a book quite like this one and neither have you: every short story in the collection is somewhere between a riddle and a thought experiment -- the characters are slight, but slight in the way a paring knife is, able to slip behind your eyeball and julienne some nerves you'd previously thought vital. What if, the collection asked, you could get over any problem in life by killing a wolf, or what if your father confessed on his deathbed he'd faked 9/11, or an entire football team's I've never read a book quite like this one and neither have you: every short story in the collection is somewhere between a riddle and a thought experiment -- the characters are slight, but slight in the way a paring knife is, able to slip behind your eyeball and julienne some nerves you'd previously thought vital. What if, the collection asked, you could get over any problem in life by killing a wolf, or what if your father confessed on his deathbed he'd faked 9/11, or an entire football team's strategy was the same baroque play over and over, or there was a puma in the airplane bathroom? None of the stories feel like that much when you're reading them; a couple even provoked an indignant "psh" in me. But they followed me to the shower and they followed me to the pumpkin festival and in a billion years when my youthful sleep deprivation comes home to roost in the form of dementia, when my brain becomes a desert, at least one pale purple shoot, a sickle purple, will remain -- from Chuck Klostermann.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    While I usually reserve 5-stars for great works of literature, or whatever, I am giving this one 5-stars because Chuck Klosterman wrote himself out of the biggest question I had, which is how he could break away from the essay collection format without becoming boring. His books of random essays were never going to top SD&C, even if they were technically better, and his fiction was only good when characters randomly started talking about music. In this book, he finds a way to assert himself as cu While I usually reserve 5-stars for great works of literature, or whatever, I am giving this one 5-stars because Chuck Klosterman wrote himself out of the biggest question I had, which is how he could break away from the essay collection format without becoming boring. His books of random essays were never going to top SD&C, even if they were technically better, and his fiction was only good when characters randomly started talking about music. In this book, he finds a way to assert himself as culture critic within the possibilities of fiction. This allows him to take off the specific shackles which have held his previous work back, which are autobiography, sophistry, and plot. Each ministory is pretty good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eloise Robbertze

    Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klosterman is an eclectic collection of weird and sometimes wonderful short stories. There’s no rhyme or reason to them. It’s like finding a box filled with pages and pages of scripts and trying to piece them together. I enjoyed a few of them, their premises were intriguing. There were many that I just didn’t get. I re-read a few of them to try and figure out what I missed – and still missed it. It’s a critique on our (western) culture and what we do with it. Some of i Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klosterman is an eclectic collection of weird and sometimes wonderful short stories. There’s no rhyme or reason to them. It’s like finding a box filled with pages and pages of scripts and trying to piece them together. I enjoyed a few of them, their premises were intriguing. There were many that I just didn’t get. I re-read a few of them to try and figure out what I missed – and still missed it. It’s a critique on our (western) culture and what we do with it. Some of it is funny, some of it is horrifying, and some of it is so dumb you cannot help but despair at us humans. #netgalley #raisedincaptivity #chuckklosterman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mike Ely

    Reading this book was PAINFUL! Klosterman is one of my favorite writers but I really disliked this book. The short stories are boring, unimaginitive, or just dumb. I'm sure they threw money at Chuck to put out a futuristic fiction book, and Chuck is hoping that one of his Philip K. Dick-like ripoff stories gets picked up and made it to a movie, but seriously - READ Philip K. Dick instead. The only reason that I kept reading and finished the book was that I couldn't believe that Chuck could write Reading this book was PAINFUL! Klosterman is one of my favorite writers but I really disliked this book. The short stories are boring, unimaginitive, or just dumb. I'm sure they threw money at Chuck to put out a futuristic fiction book, and Chuck is hoping that one of his Philip K. Dick-like ripoff stories gets picked up and made it to a movie, but seriously - READ Philip K. Dick instead. The only reason that I kept reading and finished the book was that I couldn't believe that Chuck could write 30+ short stories and I wouldn't like any of them. But that's pretty much what happened. Chuck, please go back to NONFICTION. This attempt at Fictional Nonfiction failed, badly.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    Some of these were brilliant and some were just alright. Klosterman has such an unusual thought process therefore they were all engaging. All in all I’d say it was a really good read, but I prefer his writing in the longer form overall.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bakertyl

    The only thing I didn't LOVE about this book was the stories I enjoyed the most were at the beginning. Overall, a great book. I've loved Klosterman for years, but didn't like his fiction novel. I liked his non-fiction work and overall writing style, so went into this book with a little trepidation... The first story was my favorite, and I liked almost everything. Some stories had clear morals or messages, others were so open ended I had to put the book down and think for awhile before moving on. M The only thing I didn't LOVE about this book was the stories I enjoyed the most were at the beginning. Overall, a great book. I've loved Klosterman for years, but didn't like his fiction novel. I liked his non-fiction work and overall writing style, so went into this book with a little trepidation... The first story was my favorite, and I liked almost everything. Some stories had clear morals or messages, others were so open ended I had to put the book down and think for awhile before moving on. Most stories are short, less than ten pages, so it was easy to read a little, think a little, and still work through the book quickly. **I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annie McCormick

    Favorite short story from this book: Pain is a concept by which we measure our God. I enjoyed this from start to finish and loved that it was all short stories with different voices and points of view. If you enjoy Chuck Klosterman books, I would highly recommend this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Caveney

    If you've liked Chuck Klosterman's other books, you're probably going to enjoy this one. Short, snappy stories that feature his particular brand of pontificating and thinking out load a bit more successfully than he's been able to execute in his other fictional works. If you've liked Chuck Klosterman's other books, you're probably going to enjoy this one. Short, snappy stories that feature his particular brand of pontificating and thinking out load a bit more successfully than he's been able to execute in his other fictional works.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jon Zuckerman

    Vignettes often in a Black Mirror style, but not always technology focused.... I liked the ambiguous endings of a lot of the stories; some of the stories felt half-finished but in a stylistically pleasing way. I've been thinking about some of the presuppositions raised long after I've finished reading which feels like a success for the author. Really fast, really fun, right up my alley. Vignettes often in a Black Mirror style, but not always technology focused.... I liked the ambiguous endings of a lot of the stories; some of the stories felt half-finished but in a stylistically pleasing way. I've been thinking about some of the presuppositions raised long after I've finished reading which feels like a success for the author. Really fast, really fun, right up my alley.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    I enjoyed this book, though I have to admit that I probably only truly understood about a third of it. Klosterman definitely has a unique mind. (Or mine's just exceptionally dim. Could be either one, honestly.) I enjoyed this book, though I have to admit that I probably only truly understood about a third of it. Klosterman definitely has a unique mind. (Or mine's just exceptionally dim. Could be either one, honestly.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Simon Sweetman

    Easily the worst of Klosterman's books. I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking I'd been Punk'd. Was I reading this in a time loop that suspended me somewhere before 11.59am on April 1st. This was miss-the-mark writing, laborious and unfunny and unpleasant. In equal doses. Easily the worst of Klosterman's books. I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking I'd been Punk'd. Was I reading this in a time loop that suspended me somewhere before 11.59am on April 1st. This was miss-the-mark writing, laborious and unfunny and unpleasant. In equal doses.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    Well....add another Klosterman book on my "oh god, he is the best' shelf. Right next to all his other books. It's weird. It's funny (I legitimately LOL'd a few times.) It's smart. It's pure Chuck Klosterman. Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Chuck Klosterman for the opportunity to read and review this book. Well....add another Klosterman book on my "oh god, he is the best' shelf. Right next to all his other books. It's weird. It's funny (I legitimately LOL'd a few times.) It's smart. It's pure Chuck Klosterman. Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Chuck Klosterman for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    The world needed these Klosterman injections right now for a fresh breath of sanity.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Eisenlohr

    I’m not sure how to review this book. It’s funny and confusing. The stories are so well written but so small, I wished they had been longer.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I took notes on my thoughts on every story in here (below for reference). My overall feeling is that it was enjoyable, but a little tedious. Every "story" (if they can be called that) is essentially Klosterman creating the perfect scenario in which to play out one of his 'Hypertheticals' that he's so good at. Some are deeper and more interesting than others, but they're all thought-provoking. That said, I'd almost rather either read him expand some of the more interesting ones ('Visible Man' is I took notes on my thoughts on every story in here (below for reference). My overall feeling is that it was enjoyable, but a little tedious. Every "story" (if they can be called that) is essentially Klosterman creating the perfect scenario in which to play out one of his 'Hypertheticals' that he's so good at. Some are deeper and more interesting than others, but they're all thought-provoking. That said, I'd almost rather either read him expand some of the more interesting ones ('Visible Man' is still to my mind the best melding of his unique sense of curiosity with an engaging work of fiction, and there was potential in a few of these stories to build something similar), or just discuss the ideas therein in greater detail. But either way, a good quick read. The best way to experience it is probably as a coffee table book where you read a story and then ponder it, then go back for more later. Full thoughts on each story below: Raised in Captivity - (A man on a flight discovers a puma in the airplane bathroom.) Good time setter, like the first course in a prix fixe meal. Doesn’t blow you away, and so that feels a little disappointing, but you also realize you’re now primed for the rest of the meal. A vaguely interesting thought experiment turned into a short story (kind of). Mildly amusing, but far from his best work. This becomes a theme. Execute Again - (A genius football coach creates an unstoppable play, and everyone on the team goes on to be a genius in their field, including politics, technology, and other less noble pursuits). Cute ending, cute concept overall. Toxic Actuality - (Two professors discuss a student complaint one of them has received about something that he feels is totally innocuous. His colleague disagrees.) Essentially a discussion of time and changing societal norms and mores. Not much to it, but it’s compelling. What does it mean to get older and realize society is moving forward without you? It may feel ridiculous and “not the real world”, but is it? What is our reality if not what we make it? How Can This Be the Place? - (Blue collar guy who longed for more goes to the upscale bar down the street, is disappointed to discover that times are tough all over, or at least as meaningless.) Life is weird and pointless, but what else can we do? If Chuck Klosterman were a plumber or whatever, this is how he would think. But --crucially -- he’s not. The Truth About Food - (Scientists discover that food is life, and the deader something is, the less power it provides.) Pretty stupid, honestly. This one barely even qualifies as a story. Another of Klosterman’s harebrained “but what this book presupposes is, maybe he didn’t?” type of questions. Every Day Just Comes and Goes - (Guy out for a run is stopped by someone who knows everything about him, claims to be from the future and needs him to come with him, saying it’s already happened, it’s inevitable. The man makes an interesting decision that calls into question destiny and self-determination.) Interesting - like an episode of Rick and Morty, if Morty was just like, “hard pass, Rick.” And that was the whole episode. I like the bait and switch of this crazy adventure having the plug pulled before it can even begin. It feels more realistic, like Klosterman watched ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ or something and was like, “who would actually let themselves get drawn into something insane like that?” Blizzard of Summer - (Band records an innocuous pop song that somehow catches on with white supremacists, despite nothing in the song’s intentions or lyrics being remotely related to that.) Another interesting thought experiment - when some piece of art takes off to a meaning well beyond - in direct opposition to, even - the artist’s original intent, what does that mean for the artist and society/culture at large? Pepe the Frog is the modern analogy, though ‘Helter Skelter’ is explicitly referenced. Interesting thought, but Klosterman doesn’t do much with it. A lot of these stories are great ideas that Klosterman isn’t interested in really digging into, rather raising the points, as if to say, “interesting, right? Anyway, I’m bored now, let’s talk about something else.” Of Course It Is - (Guy writing the story explains his own personal Groundhog Day, but has no idea the point or why he’s reliving the day.) Interesting, I guess? All Groundhog Day scenarios are interesting, but again, it’s half-baked. Do something with it! Skin - (Guy breaks up with his girlfriend over a fancy dinner because he heard that you can’t cry while eating something new and delicious.) That’s pretty much it. I think Klosterman just wanted to talk about all the cool things human beings supposedly can’t do at the same time. There’s not much here. The Perfect Kind of Friend - (Guy accidentally texts the wrong person, gets more than he bargained for, is too polite to end the very uncomfortable exchanges). Sort of amusing? Cat Person - (Guy is using cats to infect people with a Shamylan-esque virus that makes them suicidal; cop explains this to a reporter.) I see what he did there. Experience Music Project - (Guy is being interrogated about something unclear, Big Little Lies-style, and talks about the three dudes who work in a bodega. It turns out there was a murder, but it’s unclear who killed whom.) Basically just an excuse for Klosterman to extol the virtues of classic rock. Pain is a Concept By which We Measure Our God - (A couple and their doctor discuss an implant that transfers the pain of childbirth into their spouse.) Essentially, its a stealth debate about male birth control, and how wary we are about it, and yet we expect women to just suck it up because reasons. I appreciated the 'Black Mirror' reference to the 'Black Museum' episode -- makes you wonder if that's what inspired him. What About the Children - (A guy talks about the cult he and his siblings put together for shits and giggles.) I get this completely. Anytime you hear about a cult like that, it does sound totally easy to make your own and just have sex with idiots and be worshipped all day (this Nexium or whatever cult with the girl from Smallville being just the latest example). Fun take on why this is actually a terrible idea beyond the obvious reasons. (An Excerpt from) A Life That Wasn’t Mine - (Weird film director tries to make movie about Loch Ness monster and Jimmy Page.) This whole story was filler for Klosterman to amuse himself with mad-lib style movie plots and celebrity culture observations. Not That Kind of Person - (Women tries to hire a hit man to kill her husband, but it’s not what she expects.) Ultimately, it’s about how we view ourselves and how our ideas of good and bad are often contradictory, especially as we apply them to ourselves. I liked it. Rhinoceros - (Guy reconnects with an old friend who is now an anarchist who left his family to specialize in permanently deleting Wikipedia entries.) I don’t know how to feel about this one. Sometimes it feels like Klosterman creates ridiculous scenarios just to debunk them, but also, that kind of happens in life too, its just that we’re in the middle of it, so it feels less ridiculous. The Enemy Within - (Girl is kidnapped and interrogated about how woke her boyfriend really is.) Pointless. Like a half-baked SNL sketch. The Secret - (Guy takes a job that he can’t quit, people are in an underground bunker flipping coins, tails comes up a statistically improbable amount of times, guy is told that everything has changed and you only notice if you know, like ‘The Secret’ book about vision boarding.) 🤷‍♂️ Trial and Error - (An unhappy woman decides she needs to kill a wolf to be happy. She talks to a friend who was unhappy, killed a wolf, and now he’s happy and everything is great. It’s implied that she later killed a wolf and is now happy.) I guess it’s a metaphor for life and taking advice, even if it’s weird. Open yourself up to the universe’s possibilities and hope for the best, and pretty soon you’ll actually be happy. Maybe. I don’t know. Tricks Aren’t Illusions - (A failed magician’s best friend, who is also a failed magician, shows up during a snowstorm in distress, but can’t tell his friend why. They go round and round about hypotheticals, and then he leaves, presumably forever.) This is a hard book to read at once. Taken individually, these “stories”are interesting thought experiments, but that’s all they are. “What would you do if you friend showed up and said they did something horrible, but couldn’t tell you anything more, for your own safety?” Like, okay, interesting debate, what does it mean to be a good friend, a good person, etc. But as a story? It’s like ‘Lost.’ You can’t throw out interesting things without actually doing the work of pulling it all together. That’s what’s hard. Anything else is just masturbatory. Fluke - (Guy ponders a life changing career move, ponders it on the beach, and sees a whale struck by lightning. Is it a sign?) I’m dealing with my own mid-life existential crisis right now, so I related hard. But there’s no easy answers to these questions, even when a whale gets struck by lightning. If Something is Free, the Product Is You - (Guy in prison for a Ponzi scheme procures a screwdriver, uses it to run a prison Ponzi scheme, essentially.) More existential reflection, but not as acute. Never Look at Your Phone - (Guy at the park with his kid is ruminating on parenting in the 21st century, when he’s asked by the moms to deal with a creepy guy in the park.) Chuck Klosterman recently had a kid, and he has thoughts. But they’re good thoughts. The line below is my favorite of the book so far; “The only way to appreciate the present is to pretend it’s already the past.” Reality Apathy - (Guy scrolls through Twitter or something and rattles off what he thinks is real and what he thinks is fake.) “Fake news is a problem that’s only getting worse and our society is not equipped to properly deal with it,” the short story. Reasonable Apprehension - (Lady gets “a touch” of rabies and is arrested for assault for seeming like she might bite someone. Story as told to her lawyer.) This story...this story is not my kind of story. Just Asking Questions - (Man describes how his wife cheated on him with his best friend to another acquaintance, the acquaintance gets hung up on whether or not this person was actually his best friend or not, or if that’s just a memory embellishment to juice up the story, first and foremost to himself, but ultimately others as well.) I actually really liked this one. The character of “The Jackass” is maybe the most obvious Klosterman stand-in in a book full of them. He breaks down the insignificant minutia of the average man’s story exactly like Klosterman on a podcast. There is no separation. Of course, there’s a difference doing that in casual conversation versus when someone is describing an emotionally charged personal experience. It’s what makes Klosterman so engaging, but can be infuriating in the wrong circumstance. To Live in the Hearts of Those We Leave Behind is Not to Die, Except That It Actually Is - (A major public figure is with his daughter on his death bed, and tells her something weird, but plausible?) Lol. Ultimately, just a delivery vehicle for a very good joke, of the old man telling a meandering story from his childhood, that leads to his revelation that REDACTED. Pretty good. Also raises the emotional question of how we deal with the loved ones around us as they pass away. How do we remember them, how do we let those fleeting final moments affect how we remember them. Effective despite the silliness. Tell Don’t Show - (An ad exec ponders her life on the commute to work, saves the crappy dog food campaign, gets no satisfaction from any of it.) White collar existential crisis, the story. Doesn’t make it any less relatable, though. Slang of Ages - (People are being interviewed for some unknown purpose, and each runs through some surface crazy idea. It’s revealed they’re auditioning to be some sort of Fox News/Alex Jones-esque scumbag.) Just an opportunity to throw out some of Klosterman’s favorite pet conspiracy theories. The sex and violence one was actually pretty compelling. Slow Pop - (A guy tries to describe a unique friend with some wacky ideas.) This might have been my favorite. It’s very introspective about why the world exists, and what we owe to each other. Living in a perpetual mid-life crisis. Fuck, this one hit me in a place I’ve been struggling with lately in my own mid-life crisis, which has been ongoing for so long now it can hardly be called a crisis. Klosterman gets that. It’s essentially his permanent state. [ ] - (MIT abandons centuries of academic tradition to become a fly by night NCAA Division I powerhouse.) As a long-time MIT employee, who actually worked here during this imaginary run of excellence, it was so blatantly unrealistic that I straight up hated it and was frankly insulted to have been used as a prop in this thought experiment. That’s a Harvard move - MIT cares deeply (maybe too deeply?) about academic integrity. I Get It Now - (Guy explains how nothing is real, it’s all the Matrix essentially, but real, but not.) Okay. The Power of Other People - (A guy is building something in his shed, his neighbor asks about it, but it’s hard to explain, so the conversation is stilted.) I guess it’s about doing what’s important to you and you alone, but how the perception of others affects how we view ourselves and our work, whatever that may be, for good or ill. We want to be above the fray, to not care what other people think. But we do, in spite of ourselves.

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