As Long as Nothing Happens, Nothing Will

Chieh Chang, Author Grove/Atlantic $18.95 (196p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1144-9
Not until the last of the five stories here, ``What's Wrong with Him?,'' does the Chinese author of Heavy Wingsfyi, in BIP bring subtlety as well as anger to her satires. As a result, the first entries are predictable, buckling under the weight of literary conceits. For example, ``Something Else?'' features a cat telling of the brutality endured in a dog-eat-dog society. But the final piece (also the sole work translated by Yang) amply compensates. Following each of several staff members of an urban hospital and members of their families, the narrative is fractured, disjointed, as if to mime the chaos that is visited on the characters by a faceless bureacracy. A surgeon is assigned to share a room with a carpenter: `` Cha-cha-cha-cha , his plane took shavings from Hou Yufeng's flesh. `Can't sleep?' said the carpenter. `Well, you can't be sleepy, then.' '' All the nurses have anemia; an overseas student hoards the ``clean'' needles and other supplies to be thrown away after ``just'' one use in order to supply his own hospital; a ranking doctor's daughter faces down a famous Western writer who tells her, ``I'm this world's god.'' Her understated structure setting off the absurdities of her targets, Zhang Jie aims her arrows with fatal poise. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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