Five new books leave you with something to chew on

This week, five new collections of essays and stories, perfect for commutes and lunchtime breaks.

Raised in Captivity, Chuck Klosterman

A passenger in first class finds a puma in the lavatory. He closes the door and returns to his seat. When he shares his startling discovery with his seatmate, the man urges him to speculate on how a puma might find his way into the restroom of a plane, which he does. Or this: Could it be that everything we believe about nutrition is hogwash and that the health-giving value of any food, whether plant or animal, is a function of how long after its death it is consumed? One more: A runner is confronted on his path by a man who tells him he will accompany him 440 years into the future, which the runner declines to do. Those are the premises of three of the 16 stories in Klosterman’s new collection. Reading him is like hanging out with a brilliant stoner.

Nosy White Woman, Martha Wilson

The people in Martha Wilson’s stories are self-aware and grounded, often with an affinity for nature—they garden, love animals, bake muffins for the farmer’s market. Good people, curious and intuitive. The stories defy easy summary, because each involves dozens of resonant incidents and insights. The author charms with notes at the end of the volume about a few of her references — death by cat of Canada’s songbird population, Ottawa’s tulip festival, the Pritzker Prize for architecture and more.

Think in Public, edited by Sharon Marcus and Caitlin Zaloom

Public Books ( is an online magazine that presents new ideas that have been germinating in universities to the mainstream. The editors describe this first anthology as “the most cherished, satisfying, ambitious and far-ranging articles of our first six years of life.” There are 45 pieces, by academics from around the world, and most are accessible to lay readers. That splendid cover image underlines the fact that this book is meant for everyone, not just residents of ivory towers.

Just Pervs, Jess Taylor

You look at the title, Just Pervs, and figure the title must be a tease to get you to buy the book. In fact, these really are raunchy stories — elegantly written and cleverly executed, all aimed at capturing the human condition and the often surprising content of our secret lives. Jess Taylor’s rich imagination has served her well in the commission of these 15 tales, variously funny, erotic and disturbing. This is the Toronto writer’s second collection.

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

This debut work focuses on Canada’s quintessential sport in earlier times, when hard-fought games of shinny were played on backyard rinks and the voice of Foster Hewitt on CBC radio ruled. In the first story, a granddad talks across the generations to two fidgety grandsons about hockey in the good old days — until they deliver a reality check. The remaining four stories span the last century, each finely tuned to small-town Ontario life, told with affection and humour.


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