I've just finished listening to the audiobook of Jerusalem by Alan Moore and I'm a bit blown away. I chose to listen to the audiobook because of the sheer size of the book. The hardback is 1200 pages long and I think the word count is more than a quarter of a million. The audiobook is 60 hours long but at least I could listen to it on the train, in the bath and while I was doing housework. The audiobook narration also helped me get through some of the more challenging sections such as the bit about the daughter of James Joyce.
I will read bits of the book again. I will dip in and out. I really want someone to write a book about this book and I look forward to character guides and websites becoming available on the internet. What a ride!
I wonder if Jerusalem is a reworking of Big Numbers, his abandoned collaboration with Bill Sienkiewicz. That work was to be set in Northampton and the plot was intended to rotate around the building of a new shopping centre. Even if the two works were not destined to tell similar stories I am sad that we don't have the complete Big Numbers to compare with Jerusalem. I will need to dig out my old copies and have a look.
I was also reminded of Voice of the Fire. This is not unreasonable as both books mythologise Northampton and are written by Alan Moore.
Moore deals with life, death, existence and time. The book is funny and full of supernatural elements. There are moments of horror and you worry about what fate will hold for the characters. The narrative is also complicated by multiple viewpoints and multiple identities for some characters. A few diagrams and annotations would add a lot to this book and I feel that multiple re-reading will pay off (although a kindle copy will probably be much more portable).
This book could be Moore's best work. It's a different beast to Watchmen. At times he appears to have thrown everything into the mix, possibly even the kitchen sink. At one point the KLF even appear, burning a million pounds.
Much of the book is thinly veiled autobiography. Alma Warren is a cypher for Moore, sharing the same year of birth, the same eye problems and much of the same style and characteristics of Moore. Her brother Mick shares a name and a year of birth with Moore's younger sibling. Melinda Debbie, artist and partner of Alan Moore is a character in the book. I believe that other parallels with the reality of Alan Moore's family history in Northampton exist.
Should you read this book? If you have the time and patience, yes. It is rewarding. I got a lot from it. It resounded with me emotionally and it cheered me up a bit shortly after the death of my dad. I wish he could have read it. The audiobook is a good way to tackle the book. People will pick this apart for years. I know I will.