Ninety-Eight Point Six

I don’t remember how I heard about Ninety-Eight Point Six, by Denis Horgan, which I read on my Kindle because it was much cheaper to buy electronically.  I don’t remember buying it, but I must have because there it was. So I opened it one night.

Whoa.  Damned good book.

Ninety-Eight Point Six is a collection of interrelated short stories hung together with the theme of alternate identities.  Each story explores a different case of identity performance.  In one, two men sit waiting to get their drivers’ licenses, except both are using the same identity because one is an undocumented immigrant who has stolen the other man’s digits in order to try to obtain documentation.  In another, a woman constructs an alternate online identity.  The stories question how we consciously and not-so-consciously develop identities, misread other people’s identities, and just in general walk around a few different people.  Or half a person.  Or not a person at all.

I was puzzled by T.I.A., the story of a woman in a mysteriously deserted office.  I reread it, trying to figure out what it all meant, but all I could get was that she was in some sort of top-secret office where she was not in on the secret.

By far, my favorite story was “The English Aisles,” the story of a grocery store manager who torments his customers by moving items all around the store.  I kept trying to read lines aloud to my husband, but I was laughing too hard to do so.  If I were organizing a grocery store, that’s exactly how I’d do it.

If, like me, you only get about ½ hour to read each night, the bonus is that each story takes 20-30 minutes to read.  Just right for after the kids are in bed.  If you get two hours to read each night, still read the book.  Also, come over and put my kids to bed so I get more time to read.


7 responses to “Ninety-Eight Point Six

  1. I came very close to buying this book. It was in the sale that Amazon heavily promoted at the beginning of the summer. Perhaps I’ll go back and pick it up, though I just picked up 5 yesterday in the new sale that’s going on this week…

  2. fwiw — tia can stand for transient ischemic attack — ie a stroke. would that help explain the story line?
    sounds like an intriguing book!

  3. It’s a great book — you know about it because i published it on my little imprint.

  4. Hi Emily,
    Thank you so much for finding my book and your kind comments. That means a lot to me.
    I hate to go too much into what I may have meant writing something because so often people give me more credit for thinking that I deserve. But the Tia story, which I like a lot, floats around on the identity theme, too: Tia doesn’t know what the T.I.A. company does, she doesn’t know why there’s no one there and she doesn’t know that the guy out in the field also doesn’t know that things have changed and when she answers his messages with what she hopes are vague replies, she doesn’t know she’s apparently launching consequences, too. I played around with the writing on this one, because I can if for no other reason, so that for very brief moments Tia becomes what others think she is — to the agent she is a sharp boss; to her mother she is still a little girl, to the delivery kid, she’s gorgeous and sophisticated and to the other agent she is both an underling and then a superior force. Actually I had done a lot more of that than survived after I ‘de-micked’ it, toning down the writing which got a little purple.
    Thank you again for liking my writing. I like your back

  5. Oh, good. That’s what I got from the story. I was starting to worry they’d take back the doctorate in literature.

  6. I’m about falling over with sleep, but had to read this review before I close up my computer and get to bed (actually I’m in bed and it’s on my lap bec it is after all a laptop). Intriguing–and glad to hear the author’s comments. Ok, I know I’m being silly here…but if there is a Canadian or European edition, should it be called “Thirty-seven”?

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