Late last year, Alan Moore, author of the 1996 novel Voice of the Fire (amongst a number of other things) finally finished the first draft of his second prose piece: an expansive speculative study of his hometown of Northampton.
You must be wondering why it took him so gosh-darned long. Well, Leah Moore—who kept fans apprised of her father’s progress on Facebook—explained that it ran “to more than a million words in draft form.” A nonsense number without proper context, so let me make sense of the insensible: Jerusalem is bigger than the Bible, and fully twice the length of War and Peace.
By all accounts we’re looking at an incredibly ambitious book, but now—sweet music to your ears and mine—it’s damn near done, as in a statement released recently, made in collaboration with his current publishing partners at Knockabout Comics, Moore mooted a release date: specifically sometime next spring in Great Britain.
So what’s Jerusalem all about? Well, we don’t know much, but thanks to The Guardian, which helpfully stitched together the incidental mentions Moore has made of it in recent years, we know… enough:
The novel is said to explore the small area of Northampton where Moore grew up, ranging from his own family’s stories to historical events to fantasy, with chapters told in different voices. The author told the New Statesman that there would be a “Lucia Joyce chapter, which is completely incomprehensible […] all written in a completely invented sub-Joycean text,” while another chapter would be written in the style of a Samuel Beckett play, and a third would be “a noir crime narrative based upon the Northampton pastor James Hervey, whom I believe was the father of the entire Gothic movement.”
Which is, um… interesting, I guess? To tell the truth, Voice of the Fire was a bit much for me when I tried to read it upon its release. Admittedly, I was twelve years old then, but I don’t foresee Jerusalem being a great deal easier for the thirtysomething I am at the moment.
That said, it wouldn’t be a book by Alan Moore if it didn’t sound semi-demented, so for now, let’s turn to a man who might know more: Knockabout Comics’ co-founder Tony Bennett, who assures us that Jerusalem will be worth the wait, calling the novel “rich and glorious,” and Moore’s “best work to date.”
A hell of a high bar, that. But enough commenting, Bennett. Get ye back to proofreading that beast!
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.