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Archive for November, 2016

Jerusalem, Post 1

HRSFANS Book Clubread-a-LONG up to our Feb 2017 meeting: Alan Moore’s Jerusalem.

This post has GUARANTEED 0, ABSOLUTELY NONE plot spoilers.

I haven’t yet seen (partway into “X Marks the Spot”) two perspective characters actually interact with each other, though some of them have seen each other. This is not a book where the reader is just shadowing character(s) through a narrative. Rather, it seems like the intent is that I, the reader, keep catching balls thrown by the author and, as my arms fill up, I gradually notice ways to piece them together to form a partly congruent whole. It seems intended to be organic in the chemical-reaction sense, rather than the “plantlike” sense.
This is my first Alan Moore. Can anyone tell me whether he’s likely to be able to pull that off?
First favorite quote, from the “Prelude,” perspective character Michael –

“… when he was a child, when the insane were that much easier to spot and someone walking down an empty street towards you yelling angrily into the air was certain to have paranoid psychosis rather than a Bluetooth earpiece.”

Other early favorite quotes:

from “ASBOs of Desire,” perspective character Marla –

What it was, when it was good, it felt like that was you, that was how you were meant to feel, that was the life that you deserved and not all this, this walking round like you’re asleep and feeling like you’re dead.

from “Rough Sleepers,” perspective character Freddy –

You could sometimes see the sisters still up there, a proper pair of dragons who’d been widely-known and talked about when in their prime: wild, shocking and exciting. Famously, they’d once raced naked through the town, leaping and twirling, spitting, running along rooftops, all the way from here to Derngate in about ten minutes, both so dangerous and beautiful people wept to see them. Freddy sometimes spotted them in Mary’s Street, just moping wistfully around the piles of dried-out leaves and litter drifted up against the sunken car park’s wall, drawn back here to the place where they had once commenced their memorable dance The glitter in their eyes, you knew that if they had the chance, even at their age, they’d still do it all again. They’d do it in a minute. Blimey, that would be a sight.

On a one-off basis these sentences are beautiful, but this book is going to be tough on those readers who want to understand a sentence before they go on to the next one. I mean, dude, I’m not one of those people, and I still regularly feel the need to go back and reread almost immediately. The writing is third-person limited, and closer to the idiom of the perspective character’s internal monologue rather than his/her speaking voice. Someone else’s inner monologue is not easy to catch hold of.

This makes me a bit apprehensive about how many other Book Club readers are going to be willing to read at least part of this, and come discuss it with me. We have several members who for one reason or another strongly prefer audio books. I can’t imagine trying to grapple with this in any medium other than the actual printed page – it’s too slippery even for e-reading for me.

And a quote which I’m starting to think bears on some main theme, from “Rough Sleepers,” –

It’s like the houses that used to be down here, with unexpected bends and doors that led off Lord knows where. But all the pokey little nooks and stairways had their purpose in the builders’ plan.

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Book Club – announcing “read-a-LONG” to February book

HRSFANS Book Club meets each month virtually, by Google Hangouts videoconference. (If you are interested in joining us and have not yet signed up to the Google Groups account – please email Kay S., Kevin M., or Rose M.) Our next few meetings are

  • Dec 12, Silent Hall by N.S. Dolkart
  • Jan 16, Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

On an actual browse through an actual book store (or, well, kind of: it’s a mega-bookstore) earlier this fall I found a bunch of new stuff to try reading, including one that struck me very strongly as The Kind of Book I’d Want Help With. Such a book is usually what makes me want to recommend a month’s foray for Book Club, but Alan Moore’s Jerusalem is also 1200+ pages long, and bears some sort of relation to the works of William Blake—neither of which is by any means Book Club’s usual. (So if you like the idea of regularly discussing books with HRSFANS but not the idea of this doorstop, please don’t be turned off.) I was pleasantly surprised that multiple people said, “yeah, sure, I’m game” when I emailed the group to gauge reaction, so now Jerusalem is our scheduled February 2017 book.

It’s Kay’s suggestion that “It might be easier to tackle this huge, dense book in some kind of read-a-long like steps,” and our weblog seems the simplest way to host those steps. So my commitment for the next while is to post about my progress on Jerusalem at least every other week. Anyone who would like to offer their own post, please contact me or comment to a post and I can coordinate putting it up for you. Of course I hope for comments from other readers throughout.

Before we begin, since this has something to do with William Blake’s Jerusalem, a few sources for that:

  • from BlakeArchive (color, but single link per single page)
  • from HathiTrust (black-and-white, but downloadable in .pdf)
  • the HathiTrust file as a .pdf with blank pages removed, Part 1
  • the HathiTrust file as a .pdf with blank pages removed, Part 2
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