Jib Ellis’s newest collection of stories, Jib’s Hat, draws from a lifetime of experiences. In the introduction, the author describes his mind as a “tennis-ball-in-a-dryer,” and in the collection readers can follow the bounce and crash from one subject to the next.

The stories have been rattling around in Mr. Ellis’s head for years, he admits in the preface, where he unveils the story behind the hat in title.

“...these stories had been kicking around inside my head for years, thus, inside my hat, Jib’s Hat, and the collection was named,” he writes.

Mr. Ellis’s stories focus on characters examining their own lives or those around them, each with a little twist at the end. Some stories are written about war, but taken from unique perspectives, ranging from the daughter of a Major General at a war mule’s funeral to a journalist in war-torn Belfast intent on saving a beautiful hotel clerk to a college athlete who enlisted in the Marine Corps for Vietnam.

Other subjects are more peaceful, summery days on the Vineyard where one can tan on a boat and spend time swinging on a hammock. Some stories follow a theme of miscommunications and unfortunate assumptions, a funeral for a cat seems a little too conveniently timed to a nosy neighbor, pilates turns out not to be a Polish potato dumpling and embarrassing confusion follows when flip-flops are no longer called thongs.

Mr. Ellis’s stories range from poignant to humorous to melancholy and can be enjoyed in any order, as if pulled out of a hat.