“You cannot,” declares the narrator of 98 Wounds, Justin Chin’s stunning, essential new short story collection, “must not, believe anything – not a single word – that I say.”
It is a fine joke, the best and the last laugh in this dark, witty book, Chin’s seventh and his first of prose fiction. For, by the time we read the above pronouncement, we have come to know this narrator as one of the most straightforward and reliable we have ever met. If we cannot believe him, who can we believe? Which may be the point of that statement. If 98 Wounds is unreliable (the title is from Rimbaud’s Book of Absinthe, wherein Verlaine denies God and makes “the ninety-eight wounds of our Blessed Lord bleed again,” an image picked up by Patti Smith in “Privilege (Set Me Free)”), then language and narrative themselves may be unreliable delivery systems, which of course they are. In the meantime, however, Chin’s language and tale-spinning ability give us a dizzying, dazzling, deeply affecting ride. Fine – let him tell us not to believe. By the time he does so, he has already made us believe incontrovertibly.
full review [http://blog.outinprint.net/2012/06/18/98-wounds--justin-chin-manic-d-press.aspx]
Reviewed by David Pratt