IN THE DARKROOM by James Knight
“We all need stories”
It’s been a while since I’ve rummaged through the mind of author James Knight. His previous Head Traumas and Bird King scenarios had me in reflective therapy. This new release I have been itching to read, tempted by visuals and tease on social media.
James has a unique perspective. His latest character, a bedridden only twin, laments in his own juices. It is once again trademark surreal though filled with his own Oneirographs – personal digital-scapes of dreams that he traps, observes and interprets – are extra detailed in that they expose his own psyche, or that of someone else. Powerful images that drive the stories.
James hides nothing. The pictures appear and take my breath away. At first I was so impressed, I thought the art surpassed the words. Then it starts and second thoughts erase all that. The creation of your own world, recurring themes, are again confronting, like an old song on the radio filled with reminiscence can also reveal new thoughts. Something lower in the mix is suddenly apparent and you become unsure of its impact.
James is obsessed by mannequins. They are a constant threat lurking with their statuesque menace. Often the brow creases at such strange thought processes but you can’t help but smile at the absurdity and familiarity of predicaments that are revealed. I felt some confusion but that is life. Is he in a level of hell, is he dying? As he gets into your mind, simulacras appear. If you dream like James does, you will see your own reflection.
This character seems ageless, ancient and childlike at the same time. Memories knocking filled with what shapes us, but told with an uneasy gaze, poetic and artistic. Almost steam punk surreal with all its mind cogs and lace, false memories lurk and come to life, challenging his sanity once the dream invades.
The madness really hits home in this book. The confusion of his mind is paramount, there is a terror and loneliness that makes your heart ache. An imaginarium of shapes and experiences in words, thoughts and actions. His younger self fueled by bites of aural and visual past experiences that is all encompassing – he is the dream. Rorschach flick your own butterflies and mirrors, share your nightmares. Calling Dr Freud…
It gets creepy, filled with guilt and confusion, an Ecclestonesque heart beats a homage to time masters, it’s as confusing and smile inducing as your first wet dream, filled with absurd truths and the comfort of the ordinary. Holding feelings in specimen cases, once categorized ready to reveal. The mannequins keep the tension dark and as terrifying as crying angels. The empathy of madness proving ones existence with momentos, polaroids we really want to forget but also confront. In The Dark Room is therapy, a tale, a chimera, a memory.
In The Dark Room is available as a black and white paperback through http://www.lulu.com/shop/james-knight/in-the-dark-room/paperback/product-21719496.html look out for the full colour kindle and paperback edition http://www.amazon.com/James-Knight/e/B00EHE41HS