Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Guillermo Stitch

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#1
It just struck me today that I hadn't discussed this book with anyone here so I came on absolutely convinced there would be a thread on it—I mean, of course there would be—but I can't see one anywhere.

I finished it not long ago. One of the reads of my life and I'm a) horribly picky and b) no spring chicken.

I am still reeling. It is a magnificent, utterly magical book. Monumental in the best sense of the word—since it is a monument both to Northampton and to the art of writing. On more than one occasion in my reading I felt as though I had been nudged up a cognitive level or three. Scalp-tingling, ear-buzzing, synapse firing stuff.

Has anybody read it?
 

HareBrain

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#2
Its size put me off when it first came out, and I've forgotten about it since. I might give it another look when I've got through the current crop of reads, but that's a lot of words.

What other works of his does it compare to? Or other works by anyone else, for that matter?
 

Guillermo Stitch

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#4
He has only written two novels and there is an obvious comparison to make—both find their beginnings in a place, Northampton.

His earlier novel, Voice of the Fire, can be seen as a forerunner/prototype of Jerusalem. In my opinion, anyway.

As far as comparisons to other books, then I honestly can't think of a direct book-to-book one, but what I could say is that, within the varying styles and techniques that Moore uses in the course of Jerusalem, you could talk about Joyce, about Beckett but also about Enid Blyton and through it all runs the kind of stately, magical lucidity that I might also associate with Ursula Le Guin, not to mention established preoccupations of Moore's (I believe) like Lovecraft, the occult etc

It's brilliant to the degree that I had a mini bout of depression when I'd finished, and briefly considered burning everything I've written.
 

hitmouse

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#9
Presumably this is Jerusalem as in dark satanic mills, rather than a historical novel about the Holy Land.
 
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#12
I've also recently finished it and was really impressed by it. I feel like I have read a book that truly stands out from other books.
I had reservations around the middle because I felt the book was too long. The story of Mick upstairs dragged a bit and I was actually detecting scenes that I would have cut out or considerably shortened if I were an editor. Then the story picked up pace towards the end of the second book and then I was sold (though with the way we were getting a chapter on each member of the Dead Dead Gang, I was expecting a chapter on Phyllis and was disappointed that there was not one).

As a non native English speaker this was a slow read for me, and the chapter about Lucia made me wonder whether Moore personally hates all non native English speakers! ;) It was so difficult to read, but somehow I managed and even had the good grace to find it brilliant. :p (but I have decided that I will never read Finnegan's Wake).
Then there was the chapter à la Belle du Seigneur (maybe Albert Cohen was also a source of inspiration? Though I hear he himself was inspired by someone else, I forgot who) about the musings of the ex counselor which was also difficult.

I've needed more than a month a and a half to read this book, which is quite long for me, and I love the fact that it was part of my life for so long. I have talked about it a lot with my friends and family while I was reading it.

I think Moore did an excellent job of tying all the pieces together and providing enough information for the reader to be able to make the connections between the different characters and chapters. I have probably missed some connections but never felt lost, which I find remarkable for such a long book read during a longish period of time.

I also loved the humour in the book and several scenes actually had me laughing out loud, which is quite rare for me, :)
 

Guillermo Stitch

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#13
I've also recently finished it and was really impressed by it. I feel like I have read a book that truly stands out from other books.
I had reservations around the middle because I felt the book was too long. The story of Mick upstairs dragged a bit and I was actually detecting scenes that I would have cut out or considerably shortened if I were an editor. Then the story picked up pace towards the end of the second book and then I was sold (though with the way we were getting a chapter on each member of the Dead Dead Gang, I was expecting a chapter on Phyllis and was disappointed that there was not one).

As a non native English speaker this was a slow read for me, and the chapter about Lucia made me wonder whether Moore personally hates all non native English speakers! ;) It was so difficult to read, but somehow I managed and even had the good grace to find it brilliant. :p (but I have decided that I will never read Finnegan's Wake).
Then there was the chapter à la Belle du Seigneur (maybe Albert Cohen was also a source of inspiration? Though I hear he himself was inspired by someone else, I forgot who) about the musings of the ex counselor which was also difficult.

I've needed more than a month a and a half to read this book, which is quite long for me, and I love the fact that it was part of my life for so long. I have talked about it a lot with my friends and family while I was reading it.

I think Moore did an excellent job of tying all the pieces together and providing enough information for the reader to be able to make the connections between the different characters and chapters. I have probably missed some connections but never felt lost, which I find remarkable for such a long book read during a longish period of time.

I also loved the humour in the book and several scenes actually had me laughing out loud, which is quite rare for me, :)

If you are a non native English speaker I salute you for making it through, especially the Lucia Joyce chapter. I know what you mean about editing and Moore famously declines such services. I won't lie either—I could identify certain points as I read (not so much scenes as sentences structures and what might be taken as redundancies in prose style) that I could have lived without.

And yet, by the end, I was thankful for the scale of the book, for its size, for its obsession with the minutiae of the visual. One of the key transitions of the book is one of scale—from the mundane scale of the Boroughs to the enormity of Upstairs, made from the same elements (stairs and shops and people and so on) and yet somehow rendered as gargantuan.

Time too—the reader is given access to it as a dimension that has no parameters, no forward or backward movement. Something that is eternal, not because it limitless, but because it is still. Always there, always the same.

It seemed to me that the scale of the book made the depiction of these things possible in a way that, had it been edited in accordance with conventional wisdoms, just wouldn't have been possible.

Magic.

And yes, he's funny.
 

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