Wednesday, January 03, 2007

REVIEW: Every Sigh, The End by Jason S. Hornsby


Ross Orringer is bored with it all: his job, his friends, his family.

But if his life is so pointless, why are cameramen recording his every move?

Then the zombies show up. And the world turns out to be much more complicated than Ross ever suspected.


I enjoy encountering the profound: that rush of thought, that churning of the imagination and gut, that feeling, if only for an instant, of connecting with something grander than oneself. There is no single type of narrative that can move me in this way. A poignant moment in the simplest of narratives can reveal great truths.

At the same time, even stories that I don't fully understand can give me this rush. I have my limits: I lose interest if a novel is too abstract, abstruse or surreal. But a little mystery and uncertainty can be exceedingly powerful. Perhaps I'm just fooling myself in these instances; perhaps the author has only dazzled me with style, and there is no substance hidden underneath. But such concerns are largely irrelevant. Awe, like fear and mirth, is an emotion. It is real if I feel it to be real. Perhaps I am shallow, but sometimes I don't care whether I've actually learned anything, so long as an author makes me feel like he is saying something important. That feeling can itself be a worthwhile experience.

With that understanding, Jason Hornsby's Every Sigh, The End may be the best zombie novel I have read. And no, I don't mean to damn with faint praise. So let me rephrase that: Every Sigh is a fine novel, period.

To be sure, Every Sigh is well-written. The atmosphere is tense. The characters are real. Ross Orringer may be an annoyingly passive and obnoxious protagonist at the start of the novel, but we come to understand him as he faces situations way beyond his (and our) experience. The build-up to the zombies -- just one element of a much broader horror -- is slow, but compelling. When the zombies actually appear, they have context, and that makes them all the scarier.

However, what makes Every Sigh stand out is the impression of significance. It feels like a grand truth is peeking through the enigmatic and conspiratorial fog that suffuses the novel. It all seems to mean something.

Now, to be honest, I'm not really sure what that "something" is. Every Sigh's secrets are never fully revealed. Where I see glimmers of profundity, others, perhaps rightly, may see empty posturing. But I think Hornsby handles his enigmatic narrative just right. The story feels epic. The ending feels satisfying. And I like that the mysteries underlying the novel are never fully explained. Too much exposition can transform the mysterious and compelling into the mundane and silly. Hornsby answers enough questions to sate the reader. But he knows when to step back and let the reader's imagination finish the job.


Every Sigh, The End is available through iUniverse and Amazon. Jason Hornsby presently does not have a personal website, although I suspect that, as often is the case with POD zombie novels, Every Sigh's audience will find it regardless.


Greg Stones paints watercolors. Some of his paintings depict surreal juxtapositions of fanciful characters; others are more contemplative. While I like them all, I have a particular soft spot for Stones' zombie paintings. I proudly display this fine piece in my home:

And best of all, the print only cost $20. I encourage you to check out Stones' website for yourself; in addition to this print, there are several other worthwhile zombie (and non-zombie) paintings and prints available for purchase.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning my work! I am about to self-publish a humorous book about penguins, but you will be glad to know that I am currently writing and illustrating a book about zombies. Zombies rock. Thanks again for the good words.