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Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,261 ratings  ·  321 reviews
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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  2,261 ratings  ·  321 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, short-fiction
[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?"
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
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 ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Colclasure
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Derk
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jillian Doherty
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Lorri Steinbacher
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Jim Beatty
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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
John Lamb
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Samantha Burd
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Will Ashton
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Justin Martin
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-to-teach
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 ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Eloise Robbertze
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Mike Ely
Dec 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
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
Angus McKeogh
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-library-book
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
Annie McCormick
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Michael Caveney
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jon Zuckerman
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
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.) ...more
Simon Sweetman
Dec 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kent Winward
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The world needed these Klosterman injections right now for a fresh breath of sanity.
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.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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Charles John "Chuck" Klosterman is an American pop-culture journalist, critic, humorist, and essayist. He was raised on a farm near Wyndmere, North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994. After college he was a journalist in Fargo, North Dakota and later an arts critic for the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, before moving to New York City in 2002.


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