Page 1. " It was Good Friday "
A Christian holy day marking the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is significant that the main character's life as he knew it should also figuratively end on this day emphasizing the religious undertones.
Page 2. " the empty bliss that Eastern philosophers spend their lives pursuing "
Page 3. " Newton's laws of motion "
Page 3. " and sulfur in your mouth "
Page 4. " as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever "

Dante Alighieri's nine rings of Hell takes place in The Inferno, the first part of Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy. Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth;

First Circle (Limbo), Second Circle (Lust), Third Circle (Gluttony), Fourth Circle (Avarice or Greed), Fifth Circle (Wrath and Sullenness), Sixth Circle (Heresy), Seventh Circle (Violence), Eighth Circle (Fraud), and Ninth Circle (Betrayal).

Page 6. " he directed that the place be named Engelthal "

Engelthal Coat of Arms
Public DomainEngelthal Coat of Arms
The Dominican monastery of Engelthal was based on a beguine community that formed around Adelheid Rotter in Nuremberg. It is located in the Bavaria region in Southern Germany.

Page 6. " Perhaps I should start in Nurnberg in the early thirteenth century "
Page 6. " where a woman with the most unfortunate name of Adelheit Rotter retreated from a life that she thought was sinful to become a Beguine "
Page 6. " a benefactor named Ulrich II von Konigstein "
Page 7. " Charon wears a blue polyester-cotton blend. An ambulance bounces of a concrete Acheron "
A 19th-century interpretation of Charon's crossing by Alexander Litovchenko.
Public DomainA 19th-century interpretation of Charon's crossing by Alexander Litovchenko.


Charon is the old man that ferried the spirits of the dead across the rivers Styx and Acheron in Greek mythology. There is mention of him in Dante Alighieri's Inferno Canto 3 lines 76-78 and Virgil's Aenid Bk. VI, the narrator meets Charon later in the novel when he travels across Acheron on his voyage through his own personal version of Hell .

Page 7. " Gaping maw of a snake "

The snake or serpent is highly symbolic in religious symbology. In the Christian book of Revelation the identity of the serpent as Satan is implied. In Genesis the serpent tempts Adam and Eve with the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Page 9. " the Hiroshima of the body "
Page 9. " silver ion and sulfadiazine creams "
Page 9. " enough blood transfusions to shame Keith Richards "
Page 11. " I stopped being a person and became an acturial chart "
Page 16. " Galileo’s life twinned religion and science "

Public DomainGalileo
16th Century Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. Galileo caused a controversy with the Catholic Church with his writings publicly supporting a heliocentric universe. Despite this conflict Galileo was a devout Roman Catholic.

Page 18. " a Hephaestian plummet "

Heaphestus is a Greek God of fire, metal working and handicrafts. After being born lame, his mother threw him from Mount Olympus, which Davidson compares to skydivers falling to Earth.

Page 23. " I thought of Minos presiding at the entrance to Hell "
Public DomainMinos
One of the three 'Judges of the Dead' in Greek mythology before whom the dead had to give account of themselves.