As I’ve said before, I rarely purchase new books and, when I do, they tend to be old. How can I even make a start on the 21st Century publications when there are still books from the 19th and 20th Centuries which I still haven’t read? I have no idea how anyone manages to keep up to date with the new stuff so my very brief forays into modern literature usually come to me in the form of presents.
This Christmas I received Alan Moore’s new novel, Jerusalem (a signed copy, no less!). Here’s the cover:
Obviously, having only had it for a couple of days and what with it being rather epic in scale (by the looks of it, coming in at around 3/4 million words?!), I haven’t read it yet, so this blog post is merely to serve as an introduction.
It seems that this novel is an experimental hymn to Alan Moore’s hometown of Northampton, so it’s a fascinating one for me. Like Moore, I was born, raised, and still live in the peculiar town of Northampton. Like Moore, I was born in a poor part of the town to a working class family. Like Moore, I’ve had a long-standing interest in the occult, folklore and local history. I even met Moore several times back in the early 1990s, we moved in the same circles and had mutual acquaintances.
So, this book should be right up my particular Northampton side-street.
As we open the cover to the front endpapers, we’re treated to a map of the area where the novel is set (and where Alan Moore was born).
As I’m sitting here writing this in my house I am just outside of this map, to the west, in an area of town called St. James End. Locally, it’s known as Jimmy’s End and, interestingly, Alan Moore wrote a short film called Jimmy’s End which was filmed at the local Working Man’s Club a stone’s throw from my house. A dark and Lynchian piece, you can see the trailer here:
Back to the novel, I’ve dipped into the first few pages and it is a strange thing indeed to follow the characters around streets that I know intimately and to hear them speaking in a broad Northamptonian dialect. With Moore being such a widely read author it’s odd to think that our small corner has been given an international audience.
So, when will I write a full post about this novel? That’s a difficult one. I really am very much looking forward to reading it but I have pile of other books I currently have on the go which I’m promising myself to finish first, leaving me clear to enjoy this one. I find that I have less time to read than I would like these days (self-employed bookbinder, it takes up the majority of my time) and, when I do get the time, I tend to be quite a slow reader. I take notes as I go; if there’s a particular passage I like I will read it several times (sometimes out loud); I indulge myself and luxuriate over the words. It purportedly took Moore ten years to write this novel and it might take me just as long to read it and write the blog post about it.
I’m considering a running, chapter by chapter commentary sort of thing, when I do get around to it.
In the meantime, I’m trying to avoid reading anything written about Jerusalem by others as I want to come to it completely fresh.
And, Alan, in the unlikely event that you happen to stumble across this blog, I doubt very much that you’d remember me from all those years ago but thanks for writing this novel, I have a feeling it’s going to be important.