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Jerusalem

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 60 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (350 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Best Male Narrator

Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, Jerusalem is the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter.

In the epic novel Jerusalem, Alan Moore channels both the ecstatic visions of William Blake and the theoretical physics of Albert Einstein through the hardscrabble streets and alleys of his hometown of Northampton, UK. In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England's Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district's narrative, among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts, a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-colored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them.

Employing a kaleidoscope of literary forms and styles that range from brutal social realism to extravagant children's fantasy, from modern stage drama to the extremes of science fiction, Jerusalem's dizzyingly rich cast of characters includes the living, the dead, the celestial, and the infernal in an intricately woven tapestry that presents a vision of an absolute and timeless human reality in all of its exquisite, comical, and heartbreaking splendor.

In these minutes lurk demons from the second-century Book of Tobit and angels with golden blood who reduce fate to a snooker tournament. Vagrants, prostitutes, and ghosts rub shoulders with Oliver Cromwell; Samuel Beckett; James Joyce's tragic daughter, Lucia; and Buffalo Bill, among many others. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for 11 chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath toward the heat death of the universe.

An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and minutes of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth, poverty, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake's eternal holy city.

©2016 Alan Moore (P)2016 Recorded Books

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Magisterial, magnificent!

Would you consider the audio edition of Jerusalem to be better than the print version?

No, I read the print version and that is the intended format, so I "prefer" that, but the audiobook has its own unique charms.

What did you like best about this story?

It's breadth, scope and dazzling inventiveness.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

His accents and inflections are very good. he also makes the Lucia Joyce chapter accessible, as it was a challenge (and a rewarding delight) to read.

Who was the most memorable character of Jerusalem and why?

Alma and Mick Warren, the sibling characters who are the primary focus. Henry George, a freed slave living in Northampton is also a stand out. Honestly, the book is loaded with memorable characters, from the "demon" Asmodeus, who is often as hilarious as he is frightening, to the ghostly and intrepid gang of kids who guide Michael Warren through a sort of afterlife.

Any additional comments?

This is one of the most dazzling and inventive novels I have ever had the pleasure to read, and listen to, and I'll be revisiting it again, which is a comparative rarity for me.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What did I just experience?

If Jerusalem were a recipe, the ingredients thrust into a cement mixer dimensioned blender would include the following ingredients (devoid of proportion): Breughal, Escher, Pink Floyd interpreting Sgt. Pepper's, Murikami, Einstein on hallucinogenics, Harry Potter & James Joyce grounds, all flame broiled until producing a continuous multi-dimensional yet compressed potion of all 9 circles of Dante's hell.
Amazing writing and narration. Only Tristram Shandy baffles me more. Not sure what I listened to, but glad I experienced it!

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chad
  • Gilbert, AZ, United States
  • 10-13-16

A stunning and intelligent Epic

The reading journey you will take part in while reading Jerusalem is fantastical, at times difficult, always beautiful, and ultimately worth it. There were many times while listening to this novel I was struck by the beauty within a single sentence, and then it would happen again, and then again, and then again.

The book left me with some incredibly imagery and concepts that I will not soon forget. You know it's a good book, when you feel like it was over all too soon at 61 hours.

Highly recommend for those that enjoy smart, challenging novels.

#Mindbending #tagsgiving #sweepstakes,

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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Neither Engaging nor Satisfying

Seriously guys??? I see it's on me to be the dissenting voice of reason. So be it.

Perhaps I'm a Philistine (one really can't tell about oneself), but I just can't understand why this book has received such high praise. As far as I'm concerned, the only merit that it possesses is that it's long. Maybe if you're driving across the country, then it might help you stay awake. Probably not though, as the plot is neither terribly engaging nor remotely satisfying. I'm not going to spoil anything in case you make the [unfortunate] decision to go ahead and read this thing anyway, but I will tell you this: nothing, I mean nothing gets resolved or even fully explained.

Don't get me wrong, I'm normally cool with semi-vague endings that leave you to resolve elements of the plot or speculate about the resolution of certain events (e.g., Roadside Picnic, The Windup Bird Chronicle, The Man in the High Castle, etc). In fact, I tend to like those kinds of stories far more than the average reader, so it's not an aversion to vague endings that piqued me.

Let me be clear: we're talking about massive, seemingly endless string of inane stories about generally unlikeable people few of which actually tie together in any meaningful way or resolve into satisfying conclusions. It's like an endless Stephen King character montage (the type he uses to give you a peek into the lives of the citizens of a town in novels such as Salem's Lot and Needful Things), only the characters aren't terribly interesting and the plots lack coherency. I kept thinking, "Now! This is the part where something that happened earlier is going to matter," and being completely wrong. There are exactly three threads that stitch together throughout the book, and none of them moved me in any way. I've never been so relieved to finish a book.

What irritated me the most about this book is that it left me with an impression that the author was having a bit of a laugh at me. "Look what I got this poor schlub to do—he read this whole cursed thing" It's like one of those long, tedious jokes that starts with a plaid monster in a plaid room and ends with the punchline, "And the moral of the story is you should always look both ways before crossing the street."

Barring malice, I can only conclude that the author simply didn't have a story to tell and just wanted to write, pouring out his words in a tome that he thought would would make James Joyce proud. Instead, I'll draw from one of my favorite Stephen King quotes. There are good stories told poorly, and there bad stories told well, and sometimes you luck out and find a good story told well. This, however, is neither a good story nor is it told well, no matter what the vein, pseudo-intellectual sycophants who convince themselves that tripe like this is actually good fiction may say.

79 of 94 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Lowest. Recommendation. Ever.

“Are you still listening to that terrible book? Why?”

I can’t count how many times my wife has asked me that question this past year. For a while I kept holding out hope that the book would turn-around. It didn’t. So while I did finish the book, I kind of regret losing 60+ hours of my life doing so. Huh... 60+ hours?

The book in question is Alan Moore’s Jerusalem - a 1200 page tome that translates to a 60-hour audio book. This book was, for me - and I don’t say this lightly, the most dreadful thing I’ve ever read. Stay far away from this book. If you don’t know who Alan Moore is, don’t start with this book. If you do know who Alan Moore is, don’t bother with this book. If you love Alan Moore’s work in comics forget this book even exists. Get the picture?

My instinct was to not solely blame Moore but also the book’s editor for allowing a rambling volume of this size to go to print. Then I found this little quote

“Any editor worth their salt would tell me to cut two-thirds of this book but that’s not going to happen. I doubt that Herman Melville had an editor – if he had, that editor would have told him to get rid of all that boring stuff about whaling: ‘Cut to the chase, Herman’,” [Moore] told the New Statesman in 2011.

Thus we see two root causes of the problems with Jerusalem. First, Moore’s thinks no editor can touch his "masterpiece." Moore and Moore alone is the best person for the job. (He’d probably also represent himself if he ever stood trial.) Moore is dead wrong. This book really needed an editor. It could have easily been 20% of its final size and at least been considered a workable story and novel.

Second, Moore's self-comparison to Melville demonstrates a level of ego that is pervasive throughout the book. And that goes to how I can best sum up Jerusalem. It is a novel of arrogance, ego and hubris. “Look at me! Aren’t I clever? See how many different styles of writing I can pack into 1200 pages? Isn’t that just genius? See me describe even the slightest event in the most unnecessarily colorful language ever put to paper. See how I can make even the tamping out of a cigarette sound like an ode to stars twinkling in the heavens? Have you ever seen anyone display such genius in writing before?”

In addition to ever changing styles of writing that serve to annoy more than to add to the story, Moore has non-sensical chapters. There is a chapter on the history of currency. There is a chapter section written in Olde English or Scottish or some other dialect that makes a swath of the book incomprehensible to the human ear. There are chapters used to describe dozens of pieces of art at an art show - without adding any real punch to the story. And Moore seems a bit obsessed with trying to develop language that combines blatant pornography with fine literature. It doesn’t work. It just looks like Moore is obsessed with ejaculation.

The novel is broken down into three books. That alone should tell you something. If Moore really wanted to publish this work then why not do it as a trilogy? (Although I still think one book of around 200 pages would have served best.) The only reason I can see is that he wanted to produce one of the world’s longest books by putting into one work every literary idea that was filling up his idea journal. Again, arrogance and ego. Or, at the very least, a complete disregard for the reader's enjoyment.

I could go on and on but then I’d be no better than Moore. All I can say is avoid this book. It is, by far, the least favorite thing I’ve read/listened to in my life. I would recommend this book to no one.

32 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Get ready for an adventure!

What did you like best about this story?

I will be thinking about this novel the rest of my life. There is no favorite scene or character...the book in its entirety is a magical hodgepodge that fills the senses...laughter..sadness..wonderment..loss and life.

I will indeed be looking more closely at the people I pass by on the street. Do I really see them? And if I do, do they see me? And do I see them now, or at another time and space.

Any additional comments?

Simon Vance turns black and white words on paper into a performance of breathtaking proportions!

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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The best audiobook I have ever heard.

Simon Vance's performance is spectacular and the book is a work of genuine genius. As long as it was, I look forward to listening to it again.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Bizarre yet strangely wonderful

Numerous times I nearly gave up, not really understanding everything as it was happening. Overall, I am glad that I completed the novel. Believe it or not, as you listen to this book everything will get tied together.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredible masterwork, beautifully performed

I was so impressed by this work & by Simon Vance's accomplished narration that I bought the book in hardcover so that I might read along. Section 5's homage to James Joyce's "Finnigan's Wake" is nothing short of genius performed by a preeminent actor. Intelligently beautiful.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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This Book is Sublime

Oh my goodness fellow readers, this ambitious story takes you on an adventure that will leave you wondering where you left your sanity. In a good way, like you saw it off and you know it's safe somewhere. I anticipate many revisitings just so I can better grasp this amazing tale that has taken me away. Alan Moore has penned this spellbinding tome and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not acquaint yourself with it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful