By Christopher Owens
The Pensive Quill
It’s seemingly all too tempting for writers to reimagine their past for whatever audience they are writing for. Especially when said writer has an ego the size of a boil, and the imagination of one.
I remember reading Paul Di’Anno’s “autobiography” of his time fronting Iron Maiden and his solo years. Apparently, even though Maiden weren’t a major draw in America during his time in the band, he was able to live the life of Riley (drugs, women, hotels) for years afterwards, despite his post-Maiden career being a non starter.
Quite impressive for someone convicted of benefit fraud.
However, when it comes to fiction, then the writer has an awful lot more resources to play with and isn’t obligated to discuss how they see things. Indeed, there can often be a fair bit of teasing going on when (as is the case here) the author is a reclusive figure with a massive cult following.
And this is the case with The Primal Screamer.
Written by Nick Blinko, guitarist/singer/artist of anarcho-punk legends Rudimentary Peni, the book is presented as a series of extracts from the diary of Dr. Dweller, a psychiatrist who has been referred Nathaniel Snoxell. A teenager, Nathaniel has tried to kill himself.
And so begins a doctor/patient relationship that will see both sides test each others limits, embracing punk rock, primal scream therapy and madness. Not a lot happens in terms of plot or action, but the relationship and engagement between these two characters draws the reader in, making it easier to embrace the lack of action or plot.
Despite said focus being on both Dr. Dweller and Nathaniel, both retain an awe of mystery about their motivations and character. As a result, the reader is forced to call into question the reliability of the narrative, especially when the discussion turns esoteric.
Using the backdrop of small town England as it lurched from the 70’s into the 80’s, Blinko has crafted a tale that is worthy of his hero, H.P Lovecraft. It would be unfair to give away much in this review (not because it’s packed with twists, but because the feel and vigour of the tale is so simple) but I can assure you that you’ll find yourself engrossed in no time.
For fans of Rudimentary Peni, it’s fun to imagine that Nathaniel is merely a stand in for Blinko himself. And while some of that may very well be true, other events in the book take genuine events and reinvent them, frustrating those armchair psychologists intent on rinsing the book for hints of Peni’s past (the band are infamously reclusive, having only played live a handful times).
Madness and bending the truth = a fine combination for fiction.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.
Nick Blinko was born in 1961. His band, Rudimentary Peni, whose records include Death Church, Cacophony, and Pope Adrian 37th, enjoy international acclaim in punk and avant-garde circles. A legendary figure in the “outsider art” scene, his paintings are exhibited across the world. He continues to write, paint, and make music in Black Langley, Hertfordshire, UK.