This is material I have gathered for an upcoming Jason S. Hornsby website. I'm posting it here first. Enjoy, guys!
If you’ve read a Jason S. Hornsby offering before, you’ve probably realized that a second look may be necessary in order to pick apart the sometimes ridiculously convoluted and miniscule plot threads present in his work. Both Every Sigh, The End and his newest release, Eleven Twenty-Three, are chock full of inside jokes, English grammar humor, and oblique references to pop culture and conspiracy theory. The next time you read one of these books, keep an eye out for the following (and fair warning, here be spoilers!):
Every Sigh, The End
1. One of Hornsby’s signatures is to begin every book with a potent word or phrase, and end with that word’s exact opposite. The first words of ESTE are “the end.” The last words are “the beginning.”
2. At one point in 2005, when Ross is telling his story to Martin and the man he is not allowed to see, a soldier comes into the room and reports that they have “lost Holland and Dawson.” Holland and Dawson are the last names of two of the author’s ex-love interests.
3. Throughout ESTE, there are references to several obscure, terrifying conspiracy theories. The time travel aspects are similar to exploits described by Al Bielik and Preston Nichols (whose name was the inspiration for the character Preston in the novel). The book mentions the Philadelphia Experiment, the Montauk conspiracy, Project Rainbow, and the Phoenix Project, among other forays into time travel and inter-dimensional experiments.
4. Every movie title thrown out by Ross and Preston in the book is real. The films that their company Something Wicked, Inc. sells are all actual titles once available through similar real-life mail order movie catalogues.
5. Although several reviewers and readers have theorized that some of the chapters of ESTE follow parallel fantasy storylines created by the character Ross (namely the chapter in which Ross and Martin make their way across a zombie-ravaged town on their way to the prison), this was not the author’s intention. Everything zombie-related that happens to Ross was meant to be taken as “fact,” though set in different times of Ross’s life.
6. Early in the book, Stacey comments on how beautiful ellipses (…) are in long fiction. In Part Five, Stacey regales Layne with a long and detailed story. As she speaks, her narrative is broken up by frequent ellipses.
7. At one point in the book, Ross steals someone’s copy of 100 Years of Solitude during a party. This is a nod to Bret Easton Ellis’s Rules of Attraction, and there is also a reference to Ellis’s real-life Bennington College and the fictional Camden College. Ellis is one of Hornsby’s favorite authors.
8. Speaking of parties, at the final soiree Layne attends, which is in an apartment building in St. Augustine, Ross is met and given a tour up the multiple floors by a man named Virgil. This is a pretentious reference to The Divine Comedy, in which Virgil leads young Dante through the various levels of the Inferno.
9. At the same party, numerous real-life friends of the author make cameos. Most of them are involved in some form of grotesque behavior. Hornsby does the same thing for his nearest and dearest during the final party in Eleven Twenty-Three.
10. Author trademark: Jason S. Hornsby makes a cameo appearance in his own novel, as a drunken party attendee who tells the protagonist that he “…wrote you, man.”
1. Author signature: the book begins with the words “the dead” and ends with “the living.”
2. In Document One’s epigraph, there is a quote by the British satirist Jonathan Swift, but it is inexplicably presented in Chinese. Translated, Swift’s quote reads thus: “Usually speaking, the worst-bred person in company is a young traveler just returned from abroad.” The Chinese was meant as a lame joke regarding both the character Layne and the author himself, who was returning from abroad at the time the novel was written and could think of nothing more infuriating than to translate Swift’s famous thoughts on travel into Mandarin.
3. Throughout Document One, there are constant iterations of the numbers one, one, two and three. Layne and Tara’s flight time, the number of different objects in the terminal, and even the narrative itself use the book title in obscure ways. For example, “I thought I was returning home early this Christmas for nothing more than one funeral, one uncomfortable dinner with my mother, and two or three long conversations with friends and family…”
4. The Fibonacci sequence plays an important part of Eleven Twenty-Three. As Hajime explains, the first four numbers are 1, 1, 2, and 3, respectively. However, subsequent numbers in the sequence (such as 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and 89) are also used in the novel. In fact, practically every number in the narrative, not to mention the chapter heading time codes, are some form of Fibonacci number (and a few times, references to important historical dates such as 9/11). They appear as either stand-alone digits or combinations, such as Sonjay Brohns’ 8:13 flight to America. During the writing of the novel, Hornsby became obsessed with numerology, and it shows in the final product.
5. There are myriad references, both blatant and subtle, to conspiracy theories. The 9/11 inside job theory, chemtrails, mind control through psychorama, government-ordained dependence on pharmaceuticals, nano-technology, and the New World Order are referenced. Further, every song, book, and movie mentioned in the novel relates to either ghosts or relevant political discourse.
6. As in ESTE, aside from the plot itself, most of the information presented in Eleven Twenty-Three is actually fact. Bytes of info ranging from sturgeon populations in Florida (they really did go extinct within five years of Abraham Tyson’s fictional prediction) to the descriptions of genocide in Burma and suicide on the Golden Gate are all actually true, to the best of the author’s knowledge.
7. In the writing of the next to last chapter in Document Four, which is the longest chapter of the book, Hornsby was inspired by Alan Moore’s Watchmen and an episode of the short-lived TV show Wondershowzen, entitled “Patience.” Both works featured a segment structured as a palindrome; that is, something which appears the same both forward and backward. The chapter begins and ends with a fantasy involving fortune telling in a locked room, except all of the details are reversed the second time around, including the line “I hate to say this, but frankly, I’m afraid for your future.” Hornsby considers this the proudest chapter so far in his writing career.
8. At one point in the novel, Julie tells Layne several interesting things about the letter w and its relation to Fibonacci numbers. In one of the brief final chapters of the book, all three paragraphs begin with words that start with w.
9. When Document Five begins, Layne and Tara are having dinner at a restaurant on Gui Jie, which translates as “Ghost Street” in English. Gui Jie is an actual street in Beijing, famous for both its eclectic restaurants and history of paranormal activity.
10. The names Jonas Scott and Sonjay Brohns are anagrams. Perhaps you can figure out who these men really are.