Book - In the Dark Room

In the Dark Room

Having survived Head Traumas, Susan Omand now heads In The Dark Room of James Knight...

I started my review of James Knight's last book, Head Traumas, with the words "How to describe the indescribable?" and it seems a fitting angle to start this review from too.

So let me at least try and describe the basics of In the Dark Room. The narration takes place from the point of view of a bed-ridden man, whose monologue makes up the prose within the book, each thought on its own page and separated from the next by some of James' trademark spectacular "oneirograph" dream-photo compositions - clashing colours, overlapping shapes and highly disrupting imagery doing to your eyes what the surreal stream of consciousness in the words does to your brain. Or at least that's how I read it, you may read it differently.

If you can just imagine a man lying in a room talking to himself, or a nurse or carer as they work, passing comment on things that are happening and the thoughts that come into his head, telling stories, that is what this is. The mannequins, an invention of James' that first surfaced on his Twitter account @badbadpoet are very much centre stage this time as protagonists, or antagonists, although The Bird King, James' most famous, or infamous, character to date does get an oblique mention on occasion. There are seagulls having arguments, a forest in the stripes on the bedroom wallpaper and mannequins in the kitchen making toast. And it is all told so matter of factly that it all makes perfect sense.

I am a huge fan of James' surreal ideas, both in his written work and his art. This book is very different to Head Traumas but don't get me wrong that isn't a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. The thing I really like about this book is that each page flows to the next with consummate ease making it much more of a complete work, rather than a dip into poetry book like Head Traumas was. These are not disparate works in a compilation, this is an intermingling of recurrent themes building a complex whole that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. Each story/poem/thought/stream of consciousness/whatever you want to call it is self contained and makes perfect sense as such but the train of thought between story and image and story flows so beautifully that it is criminal to pick just one.

As with all of James' work, not everyone will understand or even appreciate it, this is the same for all works of genius. And I realise that this review doesn't make much sense because trying to describe genius is far more difficult than being one. One recommendation I would make though, having experienced the artwork in all its technicolour disturbance in my review e-book, is that you NEED to get a colour copy just for the pictures when they come out in addition to the black and white version that you need to get now just to read the words.

Image - Amazon