Always find it easy to fall into James Knight’s mind, my imagination primed for his latest collection. The Bird King and I have done this dance before. Other words and worlds he has shared over the years. Good news, the Mannequins are back. A wonderful obsession shared with many. Our showroom friends with their stiff manners, perfect dark side smiles. They are the plastic bones that hold this all together. You will find them wondering around the various levels of his mind, and throughout this book. The windows they tap, tap, tap upon are merely his eyes, riding lifts, popping out at uncertain floors. It is a symbiotic relationship. One can’t exist without the other and they need him more than he realises. The Bird is no king without them. A rewriting of Carroll as Dante has Alice and the rabbit doing very strange things. This bad poets’ alternative holes are filled with an even more surreal reality, 13 of them, his only number. Dr Mort is still alive, closing in on childhood, the past dissolves with every mention. The little poems that sneak in like bookmarks are perfect. The first Patience is a whisper from the back room. Larger characters taking over their stage, like Eve. Epic as an aria “Eve spun a web from midnight, God’s words, frail, dry, got caught in it and shivered to dust” A painting, Sistine in its dream, cracks in the tempera. Objectum sexuality has piqued his feathers, his ‘amorous capriciousness reaches delirious heights‘ and a reminder to hide the furniture when he visits. My dream is to see one of The Bird King’s ‘scenes … that no no one has made‘ mirroring his 13 Deleted Scenes From A Film into a visual feast. Too long a wait, he must do it himself via words, his TV Murder Mystery a gripping story that points the finger at everyone.
This is how these stories read. A three year sojourn. Their roots dormant inside a timeline. A series of tweets sunlit to expand or grab and run with collaborators. Writers and artists like Nicky Morlock’s Transformations and the Norse inspired Nine Realms series. Susan Omand’s beautiful colour illustrations in The Mannequin and the magnificent artist Viviana Hinojosa. Theirs is a perfect match of sublime hand drawn visuals and surreal worlds for those who still believe in the magic of illustration and storytelling. Even I couldn’t resist his squawks. James’ nest is hard to resist. As soon as I saw his tweets for the Glitch Witch, my tongue was rolling all over it. James taking my recordings and passing them on to Adam Wimbush to weave into a soundscape that you can listen to here.
Story after story continue. Orpheus and Eurydice and Perdita In Pieces are beautiful. I could sense big shoes coming and I was right. The existential funnymen paint a bleak picture, “For the clowns, sleep is a rehearsal for death. They keep their eyes open and dream of nothing“. Hallucinations a plenty in 13 Circles Of Hell Hidden From Dante But Revealed To The Bird King In A Series Of Hallucinations Caused By Medicine For A Urinary Tract Infection. After reading realise The Bird King seems normal to me, his state of mind one and the same, infected or not. It all makes sense if you follow the Bird King’s path. Maggots and Sea Of Knives all warm up to his Chimerical Biography, a mission statement for the gang he has created. There are new words for old mythologies, e.e. cummings in upper case and many other sacriliges. A kind of This Is Your Life, celebrating only his mind. The Bird King’s past is all there for us to squirm in and admire. The Mannequins Are More Real Than You is available to download free on Smashwords, so what’s stopping you? You can also pay for something physical via Lulu.