Wrapped In Paper

[Contains re-classified dossiers and SPOILERS!!!]

“The Secret History of Twin Peaks” by Mark FrostTo properly prepare for the imminent arrival of Season Three, I decided to pick up a copy of Mark Frost’s epistolary novel The Secret History of Twin Peaks (2016), to read alongside the Entire Mystery boxset. However, I’d seen some rather mixed reviews for it online, and opted to borrow the hefty hardback from my local library, rather than buy it blind… and I’m glad I held back, because it’s not a book I’m ever likely to read again for the “story”, and half of it isn’t even about the eponymous town! I can’t help wondering if Frost got a little confused between his own landmark series and The X-Files (which do both feature David Duchovny playing an FBI agent, after all), because there’s an awful lot of UFO/Masonic/Illuminati conspiracy stuff in there, which eventually feeds back into the established mythology of the TV show, after taking you on a slightly tedious amble through an animatronic waxwork museum of former American Presidents (Nixon!) and English occultists (Crowley!). In my own mind I credit Frost with keeping David Lynch on a more even keel, genre and plot-wise, but I find his presentation here painfully prosaic… so I’m glad that the forthcoming revival will be a collaboration between the two of them, rather than a solo project like this novel or Fire Walk With Me.

Heather Graham as ‘Annie Blackburn’ in “Twin Peaks” (S2)Possibly the weirdest diversion from what we’ve seen (or believe we’ve seen?) in the TV series, is the retconning of aged newspaper editor Douglas “Dougie” Milford (a very minor and short-lived character who wasted precious screen-time in the second season with that whole old-man-marries-bewitching-gold-digger bullshit) as a bad-ass “Man in Black”, and his succubus-bride as a secret assassin sent by the Deep State to sex him to death! Frost also pointedly elides the character of Annie Blackburn, despite a lengthy section about her sister Norma’s thwarted romance with “Big Ed” Hurley, and a couple references to the ill-fated “Miss Twin Peaks” contest (from which she was quite noticeably kidnapped). Likewise, Windom Earle only earns a brief namecheck or two, as a former FBI agent (and mentor to Dale Cooper) who subsequently went insane… but there’s no mention of him ever infiltrating the town itself, or littering the place with giant corpse-filled-chess-pieces! Maybe the author’s saving all that for his second book, The Final Dossier? Considering the apparent absence of both characters from the forthcoming season, I’m thinking maybe not…

The mysterious markings seen on Major Briggs (left) and The Log Lady (right) in “Twin Peaks” (ep #25)On the other hand, more popular townsfolk do receive substantial and reverential coverage here… such as Margaret “The Log Lady” Lanterman’s introduction in a newspaper report about three children being “abducted” in the woods (p. 143-6)*, which is followed later in the book by a five-page editorial feature laying out her backstory and making a strong case for her general/undeniable awesomeness (p. 315-9). Incidentally, we also learn that her maiden-name was “Coulson”… presumably in honour of Catherine E. Coulson, the late actress who brought her to life so indelibly on the screen. Bless. Curiously, the book includes a “physician’s intake exam” that was written shortly after young “Maggie” returned from the woods, stating (along with a diagram) that she was marked with a mysterious scar resembling three triangles… which in the TV series was actually the brand that Major Briggs bore on his neck, following his “abduction”, while her markings resembled a simplified drawing of two mountain peaks (ep #25). There’s a great article about the book on the Twin Peaks wiki-site, which details all of these continuity discrepancies and also highlights some interesting “easter eggs” hidden in various entries. It’s suggested that some of the inconsistencies may be intentional, as they appear in unverified documents written by unreliable witnesses… or that Frost may be playing some sort of mind-game with the reader…? I guess we’ll just have to give him the benefit of the doubt… for now…

Joan Chen as ‘Jocelyn Packard’ and Piper Laurie as ‘Catherine Martell’ in “Twin Peaks” (S1)Meanwhile, I was relieved to discover that Audrey Horne survived the explosion at Twin Peaks Savings & Loan that was part of the season-closing bumper-pack of cliff-hangers (p. 223-4)… though she wasn’t in particularly fine-fettle when the attending fire-crew found her, it’s worth remembering that she did once shake off an involuntary opiate-addiction like it was nothing more than a slight case of the sniffles, so she clearly has some sort of superhuman healing ability! There were also some great stuff about the shady shenanigans of Catherine Martell and Jocelyn Packard… though frankly I found the latter’s lengthy “rap sheet” as a patricidal triad enforcer (p. 172) stretched my credulity to breaking point. Then again, she did end up trapped in a hotel-room drawer-pull for all eternity, so… whatever…

In theory, this novel sets up a shiny new character, FBI Agent Tamara Preston, but we don’t learn much about her from the marginal notes she makes here, beyond the fact that she’s kinda snarky/sceptical… though she is now fully up-to-speed on all the folk-lore and conspiracy theories surrounding the town, and may even be aware that Cooper is “not what he seems”, so it will be interesting to see how she comes into play in the third season. According to IMDb, she’ll be portrayed on-screen by Chrysta Bell, who previously recorded an E.P. of songs with Lynch, and starred in a bunch of music videos that he produced, but hasn’t had much other acting experience…

———–

* One of the other children was supposedly Carl Rodd, the trailer-park manager from FWwM, played by Harry Dean Stanton… which is a nice conciliatory nod to Lynch, though I personally felt making him a former resident of the town was a bit of a stretch.

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About deecrowseer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action.
This entry was posted in Rants about Books, Rants about Films, Rants about Music, Rants about TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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