Five new books leave you with something to chew on

Five new collections of essays and stories are coming this week, perfect for commuting and lunch breaks.

Raised in captivity, Chuck Klosterman

A first class passenger finds a puma in the toilet. He closes the door and returns to his seat. When he shares his surprising discovery with the person sitting next to him, the man asks him to speculate about how a puma might get into the toilet of an airplane, which he does. Or so: Could it be that everything we believe about nutrition is nonsense and that the health-promoting value of any food, whether vegetable or animal, depends on how long it is eaten after death? One more thing: A runner is confronted on his way by a man who tells him he will accompany him 440 years into the future, which the runner refuses. These are the rooms on three of the 16 floors in Klosterman’s new collection. Reading it is like hanging out with a brilliant stoner.

Curious white woman, Martha Wilson

The people in Martha Wilson’s stories are self-confident and grounded, often with an affinity for nature – they garden, love animals, bake muffins for the farmers’ market. Good people, curious and intuitive. The stories elude a simple summary, as each contains dozens of resonant incidents and insights. The author enchants with notes at the end of the volume on some of her references – the death of the Canadian songbird population by a cat, the Tulip Festival in Ottawa, the Pritzker Prize for Architecture and more.

Think in Public, edited by Sharon Marcus and Caitlin Zaloom

Public Books (publicbooks.org) is an online magazine that brings new ideas emerging in universities to the mainstream. The editors describe this first anthology as “the most cherished, satisfying, ambitious, and far-reaching articles of our first six years”. There are 45 pieces by academics from around the world, and most of them are open to laypeople. This gorgeous cover picture underscores that this book is intended for everyone, not just residents of ivory towers.

Just perverts, Jess Taylor

You look at the title, Just Pervs, and imagine that the title has to be a joke to get you to buy the book. In fact, these are really slippery stories – elegantly written and skillfully executed, all of which aim to capture human existence and the often surprising content of our secret lives. Jess Taylor’s rich imagination served her well in commissioning these 15 stories, each varying in fun, erotic, and disturbing. This is the second collection from the Toronto writer.

Hockey Night in the Rough Towns: Five Stories, Jerold Wadsworth

This debut work focuses on Canada’s epitome of the sport in days gone by, when highly competitive shinny games were played on backyard tracks and the voice of Foster Hewitt ruled on CBC radio. In the first story, a grandpa speaks across generations with two fidgety grandchildren about hockey in the good old days – until they do a reality check. The remaining four stories span the past century, each finely tuned to small-town Ontario life, told with affection and humor.

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