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Jerusalem by Alan Moore
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Jerusalem (edition 2016)

by Alan Moore (Author)

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218553,416 (4.08)7
Member:othersam
Title:Jerusalem
Authors:Alan Moore (Author)
Info:Liveright (2016), Edition: First Edition, 1280 pages
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Jerusalem by Alan Moore

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Showing 5 of 5
4 and a half stars. wow. also whew. a rollicking freeform social, economic, literary, religious, and political history of Alan's hometown center (featuring his own family), careening across about two thousand years in time and various states of being. or you might say instead the work amply illustrates Alan's theory about the development of English as a visionary language. also a stirring requiem for the working classes. or maybe go with eschatology as the defining principle of the work, making it Alan's version of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. never mind, just read it. doesn't take as long as you'd think, it's massively entertaining, the characters are great, the ideas are flowing, the language is seductive, and it's like the theory of everything. Alan himself is played by the not-so-fictional character Alma Warren, an artist bent on saving the/her world through art. and here's to Alma. i'm deducting half a star, though, for the fifty pages of "Round the Bend" in James Joyce's mad daughter's PoV, which are just as brilliantly written as the rest of it but in high Joycean lingo, which about five pages would have proved out so we could move along (this may represent my own prejudices in terms of English litrachur.) really, though, the only problem is holding 1266 pp of book for a week (but i've got the bruises to prove it's not only possible, it's worth it). ( )
  macha | Apr 19, 2017 |
Moore is more commonly known as a writer of graphic novels such as V for Vendetta and Watchmen. This novel is almost 1500 pages long, which makes it a bit of commitment to read. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Jerusalem is one of the top 20 longest books ever written. The entire story takes place in the UK town of Northampton, specifically the neighborhood called The Boroughs. This is Moore’s hometown, and as such, he fills it with a lot of local color. One could argue that The Boroughs is the true protagonist of the novel, since all other characters wander in and out of the story sporadically over the course of centuries, though most of the story takes place in the 20th Century, so our characters meet and interact now and then. The book is divided into three parts, the first introduces pretty much all of the characters via slice of life chapters. These vignettes show us their lives in their particular time and place in The Boroughs. Some of the characters are mad and some are ghosts. Some are wistful in their reminisces and others are just trying to get by. There is a focus on how things change throughout the neighborhood, yet through their myriad stories we see how much has remained the same, such as street names and Doddridge Church with its curious door halfway up on side of the building. (Many characters wonder at this, but none offer an answer.) The second section, Mansoul, is a little more linear, detailing the events Michael Warren experiences when he was dead. (As a 3 year old, he choked on a cough drop, and was revived at hospital a few minutes later. It was a very long few minutes.) Here he meets a group of ghost children who call themselves the Dead Dead Gang. Like little grubby Virgils, they give Michael a tour of the afterlife. It’s important that he see all that he can because as an adult he will suffer a head injury that will cause him to remember bits of this excursion through Mansoul and he’ll relate it to his artist sister Alma who will create a huge exhibition based on his visions. In the final section of the book, we return to the slice of life model only they seem to all connect to the exhibition, mostly taking place the day before the show.

I feel like I’ll never fully understand the book even if I read it a dozen times. It’s so epic in scope and proportion and contains so much information that it’s a bit overwhelming. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. There were characters absolutely loved, like Freddy Allen and Black Charley. I enjoyed how Moore played with language, writing one chapter in verse and another in play format. It held my interest, certainly, though I took several breaks to read other things (gotta keep up with the book club, after all). I fully understand if the length of the book is a deterrent, but I still think it’s a good read. If you’re a fan of Alan Moore, this is worth checking out. If you’re interested in Northampton history, give it a shot. ( )
  Jessiqa | Mar 28, 2017 |
Alan Moore's Jerusalem is a maximalist novel in all the best ways. Rich in character, observation, and event, it is equally rich in a philosophy and metaphysics that are informed by cutting edge physics. It is, however, in once sense, minimalist: Almost every one of the 1200+ pages of the novel are set in Moore's hometown, Northhampton, where he still lives.

One quickly sees, however, that the geographical limitations he has imposed upon himself (there are occasional side-trips to Blake's Lambeth) are the farthest thing from impoverishing. Rather, because Moore, like certain cutting-edge physicists, takes seriously the notion that the past isn't really past, that everyone who has ever lived, lives, the Northhampton he gives us is anything but constrained. Indeed, one feels he could have given us another thousand pages set there that would have been as riveting as those he has given us.

One reason for this is that the prose, always rich, sometimes bordering on the baroque, and never amenable to skimming, is well-wrought enough that one finds oneself returning to reread sentences, paragraphs, pages simply for the pleasure of letting the words dance through one's mind again.

One is glad, though, in the end, that Moore stopped exactly where he did because the novel is an exquisite formal object, one in which every one of the many, many threads is neatly, but never glibly or perfunctorily, tied off. It's probably heresy to say so, but it seems to me a pity that Moore, a great novelist (his little-read first novel, Voices of the Fire, is also excellent) wasted so many years on comics.
  dcozy | Jan 14, 2017 |
It's different... (to be continued) ( )
  Suralon | Nov 15, 2016 |
Four stars for sheer effort (Moore's and my own). I recall hearing once that the way to survive an avalanche is to swim near the surface while it's moving so that you're not paralyzed by the weight of it at the end; this is the approach I recommend taking to this book. If, however, you like to savor a well-turned descriptive phrase, Jerusalem may last you the remainder of your mortal existence. ( )
  randalrh | Nov 12, 2016 |
Showing 5 of 5
The only way to endure “Jerusalem” is to surrender to its excesses — its compulsion to outdo any challenger in its lushness of language, grandness of scope, sheer monomaniacal duration — and confess it really is as ingenious as it purports to be.

What redeems the relentless spectacle, though, is that it’s in the service of a passionate argument. Behind all the formalism and eccentric virtuosity, there’s personal history from a writer who has rarely put himself into his own fiction before: the family legends and tragedies that Moore has blown up to mythical size to preserve them from the void, and the streets and buildings, lost and soon to be lost, whose every cracked stone is holy to him. Northampton, Moore suggests, is the center of all meaning, because so is every other place.
 
...when it is good, it is very good. When Michael first emerges into “Upstairs”, there is some fine wordplay which gives a pleasing sense of his disorientation. “Wiz this play seven?”, “It must be a missed ache” – it is a technique that Tom Stoppard used to brilliant effect in Travesties. This section also introduces the most beguiling part of the mythology, the “Dead Dead Gang”, a kind of supernatural equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars in Conan Doyle or the Gorbals Diehards in Buchan, but closest in spirit to the Chums of Chance in Pynchon’s Against the Day, especially given their affection for genre fiction. The chapter devoted to Lucia Joyce is, by contrast, a pallid imitation of the prose of Finnegans Wake – Moore hints at this influence in calling the opening chapter “Work in Progress”, the title Joyce used before revealing the true name of the book. But Finnegans Wake is more than a string of puns and portmanteau words. Moore’s version is monoglot, and therefore one-dimensional.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Stuart Kelly (Sep 15, 2016)
 
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For my family, for the people of the Boroughs, for Aubrey Vernon, the best piano- accordionist our cracked lanes ever knew.
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Alma Warren, five years old, thought they'd probably been shopping, her, her brother Michael in his pushchair and their Mom, Doreen.
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