During the summer of 2006 while browsing eBay, I encountered a shock. I had stumbled across a book with Brian Jacques on the cover, credited to J B Jaques, with a title I had never heard before. That book turned out to be Get Yer Wack.
I quickly realized this was something from his pre-Redwall days, and figured if he had 1 book authored under this name, perhaps there would be more. I was right. After locating Get Yer Wack through an online bookselling service, I had also located Jakestown: My Liverpool. Jakestown was surprising in that it listed other titles of Jacques' earlier works, and as I acquired each one of those, I continued to learn other titles in this group.
By the end of that year, I managed to find copies of each one of these books. All except for 1. As far as I can tell, I am the only American with the complete poetry works of Brian Jacques, and perhaps one of the few people in the world today that have them all.
According to Jacques: A Mersey Bible had been eluding me for the past 3 years. While I had never lost hope, the quest for this book came with many questions. Was the title "According to Jacques"? Or was it "According to Jaques"? Maybe it was just "The Mersey Bible". And under what name did Jacques write it? Brian Jacques? Brian Jaques? J. B. Jacques? J B. Jaques?
I had no idea, which made the searching that much more difficult. Plus, there are several more factors to consider: Mr. Jacques was approximately 36 years of age when he wrote According to Jacques, which would also indicate that this age was roughly his target audience. As of 2009, this makes everyone in their 60s and 70s! Would someone really still have a small book of poetry they bought over 30 years ago? And there are even larger questions. Just how many copies of these books of poetry were printed? It couldn't have been many. And how far outside of Liverpool did they travel?
Every one of these books I have found in or around the Greater Liverpool area, with just 1 book located in a north London suburb.
Recently, my quest for According to Jacques ended, because my friends, I found it! As you can tell by the cover, the title is According to Jacques: A Mersey Bible, and Jacques authored it under the name Brian Jacques. When I found the book, it was actually described as "According to Jaques", believe it or not!
For a book so rare, it is one of Mr. Jacques' oft-referenced early works. Interestingly, selections from Get Yer Wack and Yennoworrameanlike actually appear in it. The book is a parody of the Old Testament, featuring the biblical tales re-told in Scouse slang or featuring a setting of Liverpool. The following stories and characters are mentioned:
- Adam and Eve
- Cain and Abel
- Joseph and his coat of many colors
- David and Goliath
- Jonah and the whale
Jacques also explores the "eighth day" of Creation, where God created the city of Liverpool, and later describes an attempted siege of Liverpool by the Romans.
Of interest, is that Jacques has mentioned on occasion that he has written "seven" books of poetry. Including Brian Jacques Meets Paddy Kelly, I have 6. I have yet to come across the title for this mythical seventh book, but perhaps Brian was exaggerating. Then again, maybe he wasn't. If someone out there knows about any other Liverpudlian works of Brian's, feel free to let me know.