This one, however, is much more straightforward and shorter read than Jerusalem. It’s a book of short stories. Or more accurately, a book containing some short stories and one that is more or less long enough to be a novel on its own.
That one — ‘What We Can Know About Thunderman’ — is a fractured history of the US comics market. It tells of the two big companies — American and Goliath — and a few smaller ones that mostly got gobbled up over the years. American famously has the eponymous Man of Storms as its most famous character, along with King Bee, Moon Queen, and many more.
We get the stories of how various young fans attend conventions and end up as professionals, and what happens to some of them afterwards. But why are some odd things happening to people who work for American?
That one’s the centrepiece, but I think my favourite might be ‘American Light — An Appreciation’. Subtitled as ‘by C. F. Bird’, it presents an annotated version of a poem, the ‘American Light’ of the title, by a beat poet called Harmon Belner. In 26 pages and 86 footnotes, Moore manages to give us a pretty good beat poem, and tell parts of at least two life stories. You’ve got to read all the footnotes, though.1
The other stories are good, too. ‘The Improbably Complex High-Energy State’ takes place in the first femtoseconds of the universe.2 ‘Location, Location, Location’ is the story of an estate agent and her client after the world has ended.