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4.5 out of 5 stars
Brainstorm
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on 2 July 2015
Brainstorm is one of those stories you can't really say too much about, other than simply read it. It is a short story and can be read in a single sitting but I can't help but feel that this is a work in progress, that Matthew may develop this further. Don't be led to believe that this piece isn't complete by any means - you will find a perfectly rounded story and well developed characters.

The story is about a personal struggle as Michael, a clinical psychologist, fails to come to terms with his own losses - some of which he must let go and some of which might yet be saved. He has the tools to deal with these losses locked in his mind and can access them easily where patients are concerned, but turning them on himself is a very different matter. There's also Michael's daughter, suffering the same losses as her Father, whilst watching him slip further away. This works exceedingly well as character studies.

I would have liked to have seen Michael's feelings explored further with the first patient we are introduced to, as his dark thoughts would have clashed with Michael's remorse.

Overall, a gem of a story with solid characters that you find yourself caring about. The story could have easily been padded out, but it would have been just padding. There is a clever twist in the tale too, played right to the end.

I look forward to checking out more of Matthew's work.
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on 16 July 2015
“Physician, heal thyself.” This seems to apply to therapists as well. How often do we read of psychiatrists or psychologists whose lives are as screwed up as the lives of their patients? In Matthew Drzymala’s Brainstorm, clinical psychologist Michael Erikkson’s life is out of control. After his parents were killed in a car accident, things snowballed downhill rapidly. Now he has all he can do to make himself presentable and show up for work.

This short story packs a lot of emotion into a few pages. Besides Erikkson and his daughter Casey, there are a couple minor characters, but as revealed by the interactions between Erikkson and Casey and at his office with his secretary, we know that this man has lost himself. He swings between anger, loneliness, depression, and numbness.

But helping people is what he does. It is who he is. When he is called out to talk down a potential “jumper,” in the middle of a stormy night, he is confident, invested, focused, and present for the woman on the bridge. Erikkson is in his element; he is not lost.

He goes home to Casey and tells her where he has been. This leads to an unforeseen ending. I am sure that I gasped out loud, and tears welled up in my eyes. Simply put, I was blown away.

I highly recommend this short story to anyone who enjoys reading about the workings of human nature and doesn’t mind experiencing emotion along the way.
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on 10 May 2015
I couldn’t help but compare this story to a great drabble. It has the same sting in the tail that makes you reassess what the whole story was about. I didn’t see it coming at all. Well done, Matt.
The story is well written and thoughtful, with some deep perception into the human psyche. It deals wonderfully with the subject of loss and depression. How even the most organised of us can be thrown in a loop when we lose someone close to us. Like in real life, these things rarely come alone, and the main character has to deal with the loss of three people close to him. Despite his profession, and all that he has learned over the years, he is still lost in a sea of despair and his life is falling apart at the seams.
An excellent read, punchy and crisp. It is a short story, but nothing has been cut from it. The story is complete and doesn’t leave you feeling cheated afterwards.
Bravo.
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on 11 October 2014
Michael Eriksson is a Psychologist, he's lonely, depressed and suffering himself, but as a Psychologist, he has to help save people, that includes saving somebodies life if they are about the jump.

For me, it wasn't a great story, I expected more action a lot sooner than it was. It didn't start badly, it did make me want to carry on reading, which is a good start. After that, when I expected to have some action or something, it didn't happen. It read to me, more like it was a character analysis than a story. You learn bits and pieces about Michael as the story progresses, but just as the story starts, it's over.

I think it could have had great potential as a story and a lot more could have been done for it. I rated it 2 stars because I feel like the story didn't start until it was too late and the character analysis took centre stage rather than the plot.
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on 11 November 2014
I enjoyed this short story, finding the writing was well done and the story, although in places sad it had some fun bits too. The waking up the 'morning after' with no memory of how a woman ended up in his bed had me smiling and the fact that the shrink couldn't 'shrink' himself was refreshing and true to life. After all most of us can see what's wrong with others but can't quite see things so clearly for ourselves. Job well done, Mr Dryzmala.
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on 11 May 2015
I really enjoyed this short story, which can easily be read in one sitting and I have to say that I didn’t see the sting in the tail coming.

The characters are well-developed and well-written while the dialogue remains authentic throughout. The tone of the book strikes me as quite dark at times, although it is laced with occasional humor, which works well. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.
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on 19 June 2014
Enjoyed this story from the start and could sympathise with the main characters sad life. Took an interesting twist which you don't see coming. Would like to read more from this author
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on 1 June 2014
A quick read and kept the suspense till the end. Only in the last couple of pages did I work out what it was about
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A nice short read. I was not sure if I would like but after the first five pages, I was OK and I really got into it.
Michael is a clinical psychologist but he himself is in need of good advice. His life is a bit of a mess and he is a bit neurotic, but when the going really got tough, he pulled through.
Ah, but I did not expect the twist at then end.
That was brilliant.
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on 27 April 2014
Matthew Drzymala is best known for his light-hearted Bumpkinton series of books. Here we have something darker and meatier. I read the story in one session, intrigued throughout and, even though I guessed the twist before the end, it was still satisfying when it eventually came.

The author successfully conveys tone and atmosphere here and shows off his versatility when comparing the style to the Bumpkinton books. The writing is taut and precise and largely works. It's a confident early book from a rising author and, as he evolves and adds even more zing to his writing, I predict a bright future.
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