The Primal Screamer has been released previously, but in its latest version it comes with additional gothic artwork by the author, Nick Blinko, who you might also know as the frontman of the British punk band, Rudimentary Peni. The content of the book, however, is the same. While it is fiction, it also bears close resemblance to the life of its author. The story is told through a series of journal entries of a psychiatrist, the thirty-something Dr. Rodney Dweller, as he treats a teenager, Nathaniel Snoxell. Snoxell is brought in because of some recent suicide attempts, but he also has some other issues that become evident throughout the novel. As the novel continues, Snoxell gets into the anarcho-punk scene in England (where the novel is based) as well.
Perhaps it’s just my experience in therapy, but The Primal Screamer was a very compelling read. It was an astute move to take the point of view of the doctor as he tried to learn and understand the different lifestyle Nathaniel began to lead and to help Nathaniel through the use of primal therapy. Throughout the tale, however, is a very dark vibe overriding everything. Something far deeper than we can imagine is wrong with Nathaniel. The doctor’s correspondence with Nathaniel starts to disintegrate over the course of years in the early 1980s, when the account takes place. Despite progress on the part of both Nathaniel and the doctor, their individual lives become dark and mysterious. Blinko left enough wiggle room at the end to leave ideas open for the reader to guess at what might have occurred to both Dr. Dweller and Snoxell.
I was pleasantly surprised with The Primal Screamer. I wasn’t expecting much, but the book kept me wanting to read and know more about the two main characters. I sought to understand their backgrounds and how they saw the world. To have the reader engage and desire to dig deeper with the story is, in this reviewer’s opinion, one of the highest compliments for a work of fiction. So, consider The Primal Screamer a job well done. (PM Press, PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623)