Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction, Klosterman’s first collection of short stories, extends his trademark curiosity and whirring intelligence to the realm of fiction. The short stories here, 34 in total, are truly short, fewer than 10 pages on average. But what they may lack in development or structure, they make up for in originality and humor ... Klosterman’s work is motivated by his interest in ideas or, rather, his interest in society’s interest in ideas: how we come to them, experience them and abandon them. In these short pieces, he uses largely faceless characters to test accepted realities, such as time, technology, death and football, to an extent well beyond the reach of nonfiction. The effect of these almost scrollable-length stories is at once familiar and uncanny. It feels like a replication of the fractured way we are forced, in the age of technology, to mediate reality and attempt to understand the world around us.
... the vignettes touch on everything from class, gender, and race to the anxieties that talking about those things can stir up. They are also delightfully unsettling ... as funny, thoughtful, and unhinged as it is slightly uncomfortable to read, and if that isn't the ethos of the current pop culture moment, what is?
They sound like jokes, these stories. Barroom tales saved up for that hour before last call when everyone has run out of interesting things to say about their jobs, their kids, their fantasy football league ... short stories that stretch from the vaguely science fictional to the vaguely thriller-y to the vaguely vague. And that's not an insult. That's design. That's deliberate, this sense of disconnection. Of extreme oddity cloaked in muffling banality ... taken in the aggregate, Klosterman's microdoses of reality present something larger than the sum of their parts: A clear-eyed vision of consensus reality as a breakable construct, easily manipulated by those who can see the complicated workings inside and come up with the one great play that bends those rules and works every time.