Synopses & Reviews
Ten years in the making, comes a literary work like no other, from the legendary author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell.
In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrolcolored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them. Fiends last mentioned in the second-century Book of Tobit wait in urine-scented stairwells, the delinquent specters of unlucky children undermine a century with tunnels, and in upstairs parlors laborers with golden blood reduce fate to a snooker tournament.
An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth and poverty; of Africa, and hymns, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake’s eternal holy city.
Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, Alan Moore’s epic novel, Jerusalem, is the tale of Everything, told from a vanished gutter.
Reviewed by Heidi MacDonald In this staggeringly imaginative second novel Moore (Watchmen) bundles all his ruminations about space time life and death into an immense interconnected narrative that spans all human existence within the streets of his native Northampton U.K. Reading this sprawling collection of words and ideas isn’t an activity; it’s an experience. The book is divided into three parts each 11 chapters long with a prelude and “afterlude.” The bookends involve Alma Warren and her brother Mick who as a child choked on a cough drop and died only to be revived; their inquiries into the mysteries of death provide a faint glimmer of plot. The first section crisscrosses Northampton with startling chapters that introduce sad ghosts who drift around town have sex with each other and seek nourishment in the form of strange plants known as Puck Hats. Living characters include Ern Vernall who survives a sanity ending encounter with a talking painting while trapped on scaffolding and Alma and Mick’s grandmother May who grieves the death of her too beautiful daughter and becomes a “deathmonger” overseeing local funerals and births. The second section takes place entirely between Mick’s death and his revival with a long adventure in an afterlife only Moore could have imagined. The third and most difficult part is written in a series of literary pastiches including a Beckett like play and an entire chapter written in a language invented by Lucia Joyce the institutionalized daughter of James Joyce. Throughout Moore conjures the specter of Joyce’s Dubliners with dense paragraphs that go inside the minds of all the characters as they traipse about town. Some are stunningly aware of their location in Moore’s four dimensional reality (Snowy Vernall who experiences life as a constant state of déjà vu) and some painfully mired in a sordid now (mediocre middle aged poet Benedict Perrit who lives with his mother and finds inspiration only in the bottle). Moore’s love of allusions both historical and literary leads him to create a web of references that may prompt attentive readers—and not just the future term paper writers who will find this a gold mine—to read along with a highlighter in hand. It’s all a challenge to get through and deliberately so but bold readers who answer the call will be rewarded with unmatched writing that soars chills wallows and ultimately describes a new cosmology. Challenges and all Jerusalem ensures Moore’s place as one of the great masters of the English language. (Sept.)Heidi MacDonald is the graphic novels reviews editor for Publishers Weekly and editor in chief of the Beat a news blog about comics." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
In the epic novel Jerusalem, Alan Moore channels both the ecstatic visions of William Blake and the theoretical physics of Albert Einstein through the hardscrabble streets and alleys of his hometown of Northampton, UK. In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England's Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district's narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts, a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-colored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them.
Employing, a kaleidoscope of literary forms and styles that ranges from brutal social realism to extravagant children's fantasy, from the modern stage drama to the extremes of science fiction, Jerusalem's dizzyingly rich cast of characters includes the living, the dead, the celestial, and the infernal in an intricately woven tapestry that presents a vision of an absolute and timeless human reality in all of its exquisite, comical, and heartbreaking splendor.
In these pages lurk demons from the second-century Book of Tobit and angels with golden blood who reduce fate to a snooker tournament. Vagrants, prostitutes, and ghosts rub shoulders with Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce's tragic daughter Lucia, and Buffalo Bill, among many others. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for eleven chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath toward the heat death of the universe.
An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth, poverty, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake's eternal holy city.
About the Author
Alan Moore is a magician and performer, and is widely regarded as the best and most influential writer in the history of comics. His seminal works include From Hell, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen, for which he won the Hugo Award. He was born in 1953 in Northampton, UK, and has lived there ever since.