The Brain Within Its Groove is a novella by L.N. Nino inspired by the poem of the same name by Emily Dickinson.
The book is written as a final confessional and memoir by a long-retired, previously-proud and renowned psychiatrist having succumbed to an overwhelming and mysterious mental illness. Now mostly paralyzed by his own mind and needing constant care from a young nurse, a shared reading of poetry and a question into his past triggers a severe breakdown, and for the worn out doctor to reminisce on a patient who seems to be the key to his condition.
Comparisons to Gothic writers like Edgar Allen Poe are unavoidable as this dark and ever-darker kind of story weaves itself with intricate and deliberate wording that relies on a reader’s intelligence and imagination to make a short story of only nearly 60 pages a fantastically deep story where every page is rich with imagery and ideas.
While some readers may need to reach for a dictionary to make it through a single chapter, the complex writing style is beautiful and very well thought out. Details are very just-so, and the specifics of wording proves important for parts of the story, and not just in establishing the doctor’s character impeccably in his choice of descriptions and particular ways of speaking about certain subjects.
His deep neuro-scientific and medical knowledge, as well as befitting cultural familiarity, is also very well-researched by the author and sells his credibility as a professional perfectly, casually referencing important people without being on-the-nose or forced in any way – a balance rarely found in books written by authors without proper experience with the subject as well as their own writing. It’s in this way that such a short read feels as full as a much longer piece, in impression if nothing else.
Like similarly styled tales, it refrains from the more basic and often overused blood and gore and instead opts to explore the horror of the human mind, in both the slow descent of a great academic mind to a subdued madness over the course of the story and also the ideas that he comes to ponder that push the kind of existential terror and the simultaneous embrace and violation of base human instincts that made H.P. Lovecraft famous. It’s immensely refreshing to find a story that successfully recreates this style and fans of such work should definitely check this title out if possible.
The book does end on a strange note, without giving too much away, but this is pretty appropriate considering the story and shouldn’t be a black mark against the book. For gothic horror enthusiasts this should be a welcome new addition to your library from a genre that has experienced a dearth of such quality reads in recent history.
I hope that this is only the first of a series as implied by the title, though if not I look forward to hopefully many more books from this author who has already proven his worth in his two Amazon-published novellas thus far, and seemingly eager to do better still.