It's no wonder that Fang Yan can't remember who the eighth person was at dinner that night. He was in his cups and paying more attention to his buddies, the Gao brothers, Xu Xun and Wang Ruohai, and the two group gropes, Qiao Qiao and Xia Hong. Besides, it was ten years ago--just one more night in an endless parade of nights filled with gambling and days filled with wild dreams. But now that Gao Yang's headless skeleton has turned up in a gully in Yunnan, the police are suddenly very interested in that eighth person. The other five free-living nihilists at dinner (``The kind of life we're living sucks, maybe dying's a way to spice things up'') all remember seeing Fang Yan go off with Gao Yang as the pair staggered out of the restaurant--and they don't remember seeing Gao Yang again. For his part, Fang Yan has only vague recollections of that eighth person--a man in a striped shirt? the woman of his dreams? a potential alibi witness who took him into her home for eight days?--that make him look even more suspicious. And when he starts turning over every rock for Liu Yan, his dream witness, telling everyone she's his sister, it serves him right that the person he finds is a woman claiming to be exactly that--his sister. That's only the first sign that things are about to get even stranger. Prolific Wang Shuo's first English translation, modishly hip, is an obvious poke in the eye of his authoritarian regime. But American readers may well just be reminded of Paco Ignacio Taibo's absurdist Mexican melodramas, or Stella Duffy's British punkers.