Jerusalem, by Alan Moore

I love a rollicking whorehouse of a book. I wish Moore had written one.

A review of Jerusalem, by Alan Moore

I have read Alan Moore with delight and admiration since his early work in comic books. But I am having some trouble with his new and mighty story, Jerusalem. Here in the middle of the great man’s great work, on page hundreds-something, I can barely find the Moore who wrote Miracleman, The Lost Girls, From Hell, Swamp Thing, Top Ten, LOEG, The Watchmen, Prometheus, and many more fine stories. I know this man can tell a good story, inhabited by fascinating characters caught up in fantastic adventures. As I trudge along, I find I am hoping the masterful writer will appear, and tell his tale. Sir? Where are you?

Moore has placed his story in the ethereal precincts of his beloved Northampton, and has elevated his hometown to a holy and eternal city; but this exaltation is blurred by its thick prose, which reads like the prose of a beginning writer, who believes that adding a vast abundance of detail will make his story more convincing:

“Mick nodded, fumbling in his jacket for the brand new pack of fags he’d picked up half an hour back on the way down Barrack Road. He peeled the cuticle of cellophane that held the packet’s plastic wrap in place down to its quick, shucked off the wrapper’s top and tugged the foil away that hid the tight-pressed and cork-Busbied ranks beneath, the crinkled see-through wrapping and unwanted silver paper crushed to an amalgam and shoved carelessly into Mick’s trouser pocket.” (p. 33)

Moore does not trust his reader, a mistake I was surprised to read in a writer as anciently wise as he. “Mick pulled a pack of fags from his jacket.” Unless the unwrapping of said fags and careful stowage of the wrapper matter deeply in the later story, that’s plenty.

I can cope with crushing prose if I care about a story’s characters. But I find I do not care much about this group of folks who dash, lurch, and stumble around in Jerusalem. Moore seems anxious about them, or concerned that people might not like them; he troubles them and pokes them until they can barely stand up. At the end of every chapter I’d like to tuck them in for a good night’s sleep and then, on their waking, proffer a pot of coffee, before they are made to resume their contortions.

I can see the characters resenting the author. “Look, mate, we’re trying to tell a story here. Mind? Let us work.”

Moore’s stories, it seems to me, concern the beauty of the world even when horrible things happen. I believe he has missed an opportunity to bring us yet another story about beauty, when we need one. I wish he would write less, so that his story could say more.

The magniloquent blurbs, that in their intensity approach apoplexy, should have scared me away. Along the luminous margins of this work dangle lesser writers who trust the reader even less than Moore trusts her — these writers are the blurb writers, who are not real storytellers but marketers, engrossed in their spasmodic task of selling, selling, selling. You cannot put down this book, not because its story fascinates, but because its jacket is gobbed with effusions. The floor of a whorehouse is less sticky.

Readers who own vast patience and a few long evenings should give this book a good long chance. Moore does risky things, and since I would like to know whether he is devoted to his story of magical Northampton (of which is Moore champion and savior? the delights of his reader? or the ecstasies of marketers?), and because I still trust him, and because I am a stubborn bastard, I will push my way around a few more dark corners in Jerusalem.

I love a big, rollicking whorehouse of a book. I wish Moore had written one.

by Alan Moore
Liveright, 2016

buy it at Powell’s. or anywhere else.

lazy words

The words listed below are vague, gratuitous, easy to write, and a little too easy to read and digest. Marketers love them. You read (or hear) them every day, and in reading them are absolved from thinking having allowed someone else to do your thinking for you. These words, and the marketers who dispense them, dilute your capacity to be thoughtful and interesting as a writer, or as a person:


astonishing, astounding, awesome, and so on

let me decide for myself if something is astonishing or astounding




any superlative, unless you’ve earned it





insane (when used as a superlative)









stupendous, stupefying, and so on





Contraction it’s given over to possessive case

“The hell with it,” say nation’s top grammarians


CHICAGO IL — A consortium of the nation’s top grammarians has revised the rules of grammar to permit the use of the word it’s as a possessive nominative pronoun. The revision was announced at a press conference today at the University of Chicago.

“Most people write it’s as a possessive anyway, so we figured, the hell with it,” said John Grossman, Managing Editor of the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.

Grossman was clutching a bottle.

“They write A South American poison dart frog sits atop it’s keeper’s thumb during feeding time,” said Grossman, or “The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln pulls into Everett, Wash., as a fireboat shoots it’s water cannons.

A smirking Grossman held up placards that illustrated the formerly erroneous sentences. He then threw the placards on the ground and swigged from his bottle while cameras flashed around him.

“Since the it’s error is ubiquitous, we suppose it’s no longer an error,” said Karen Judd, author of the respected Copyediting: A Practical Guide. “That’s the [redacted] evolution of the language, right?”

She tapped Grossman on the shoulder, took his bottle, and drank.

Members of the consortium stated that they changed the grammatical rule to give a much-needed break to editors everywhere.

“If you’re an editor, you can spend hours explaining to your colleagues and writers the difference between it’s and its, and most of the time no one believes you anyway,” said Karen Elizabeth Gordon, author of the well-known grammar handbook The Transitive Vampire. “So now both it’s and its correctly indicate the possessive. We have saved editors a lot of stress.

“Like anyone gives a [redacted] anyway,” she said.

New iterations of dictionaries, textbooks, and grammar and style guides will reflect the grammatical change.

“Next, I bet we’ll be revising the relative pronouns which and that,” said Grossman, staggering slightly. “No one gives a [redacted] anymore about separating restrictive clauses from non-restrictive.”

“Yeah, they think if they write which instead of that, their words sound more important,” said Gordon, momentarily tussling with Grossman for the bottle.

“We might as well go ahead and endorse the use of a lot of for many, too,” said Judd.

“Or comprise for compose,” said Gordon.

“Or literally as an intensifier,” said Judd.

“Or nauseous for nauseating,” said Gordon.

“Or empathetic for empathic,” said Judd.

“Yeah, just [redacted] it all to [redacted],” said Grossman, glaring into the cameras. “Who took my [redacted] bottle?”