Commentary 11: Won One

The idea to name the chapters after song titles came to me out of nowhere at 2 o’clock in the morning, and I immediately got out of bed to start brainstorming. It ended up being an easier exercise than I anticipated, though number 11 was the one I had the most trouble with.

Eleven” by Primus was an obvious choice, but I didn’t want to do another single number chapter now that the precedent was set. Other options were “11th Commandment” by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama or “The Eleven” by the Grateful Dead, but they weren’t really resonating with me.

My wife suggested using Won One as the title of the first chapter. I thought that was too early for it, but immediately knew I had the answer to my chapter 11 problem. Fitting that the legendary “LBDG” letters show up for the first time in this chapter, as paired with the title it’s a nice foreshadowing of things to come.

Other Tidbits:

  • My sense of direction is just as bad as my narrator’s, if not worse. As my friend Trevor often says “Directions are your kryptonite.”
  • Everyone asks who the cute little redheaded girl is. I like to say she’s no one and everyone all at once. The name was inspired by the Peanuts character who was the object of Charlie Brown’s affection. It was primarily chosen to go with the “no name” gimmick, but the fact that people try to associate her with a real person is just a fun little bonus.
  • The dive bar was originally in a basement until I remembered that stairs and the narrator didn’t play well together. It’s loosely based on the old Hungry Charlie’s (aka “Chuck’s) bar in Syracuse, though most of the interior is fictionalized.
  • Glancing at a character by a jukebox that only you can see and hear is a nod to the very first episode of Quantum Leap.
  • More dual memory syndrome, though this one works in a slightly different way. The memory is changing in real-time as the narrator’s older self is actually in control of his younger body during this date, leaving our hero to look on in confused panic.
  • Thought about actually having a scene where he follows the redheaded girl home and observes her in her natural habitat, but decided it was better to let her stay a little more mysterious.
  • He’s half right in his theory on “picking up thoughts,” but he has it backwards since it’s happening inside his younger head, not his own. This foreshadows the “in head” time travel we learn about later. A lot of readers are confused about this the first time through, but say that it makes a lot of sense on the second read.
  • The short section with all of the “thunks” is one of my favorite bits of wordplay in the book for some reason.
  • “They found me. I don’t know how, but they found me!” is a Doc Brown quote from Back to the Future, serving as a subtle hint that the old man is doing the talking here.
  • There are 19 known musical references in this chapter.

Read Chapter Eleven Online

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