Twin Peaks returns tonight. Let’s rock!
I discovered Twin Peaks sometime after the show’s original run, watching it all on DVD. And I loved the weirdo masterpiece. It’s a show about grief, mystery, and coming to terms with a shattered illusion of a perfect community. It’s also a show about a demon named BOB, interdimensional beings, a Black Lodge, and owls that are not what they seem. It is all over the place at times – at some point it will seem like a horror comedy spoof of soap operas, other times it absolutely is a soap opera, plain and simple. It’s not perfect, but it was a game changer, something both wonderful and strange. And sure, Season 1 is superior to the uneven Season 2, but I very much liked what they were trying to do with the show before its untimely cancellation. The film which came out next, Fire Walk with Me, is a remarkable thriller about young life cut short. (Plus it has David Bowie.) But I understand why fans were disappointed with it. Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger and the film was a prequel to the series, not a sequel. Well, that continuation of the story is finally coming, with David Lynch directing every episode of the revival (!!!) for Showtime. Fan favorite characters are returning (Gordon Cole, Shelly, Hawk, Andy, Dr. Jacoby, Audrey Horne, and AGENT DALE COOPER), plus some mysterious new cast members (including Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Ashley Judd, Tim Roth, and… Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor?). I couldn’t be more excited. I also know that it’s very likely to be a wildly different show than the one that aired on CBS 25 years ago. Not only will Showtime allow the show to get more adult, but Lynch himself has changed as a filmmaker since the original series was on. One look at INLAND EMPIRE or Mulholland Dr. can give you an idea of how dark and strange the show might become.
But Lynch is not alone behind the scenes of Twin Peaks. Co-creator Mark Frost has also returned. And it looks like in addition to Lynch directing all episodes, Frost was in the writer’s room for each of the 18 new episodes. Frost has also given fans a couple extra goodies to go along with the revival: two new books. The Final Dossier is expected to arrive in late October, but The Secret History of Twin Peaks is available now, and I made sure to finish the novel before the new series starts up.
So, first thing’s first: this is an odd book. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the oddness of Twin Peaks, but yeah, totally weird. The Secret History is similar to S. by Abrams and Dorst. It is the discovered dossier compiled by a person known only as The Archivist, who gives details on Twin Peaks history, current events, strange happenings, and conspiracy theories. Written into the margins are the notes of an FBI agent who is tasked with studying the dossier and offering her findings to her superior, Gordon Cole. Some pages are full of redacted print. Other pages are torn out of centuries old diaries. Still others feature strange images of owls. (Note: the design and art direction of the hardcover is beautiful and would not translate well to ebook.)
The dossier goes all the way back to Lewis & Clarke, talks about a strange land in the west (we’re led to believe this is Twin Peaks region), and an all-important green ring. We move through history to the settlement of the town, and the strange occurrences that always happen there. Twin Peaks fans know there is something strange in the woods. We know about the Black Lodge. The Secret History finds an interesting way to expand on those ideas, offering us a few answers, while also presenting all new questions. The amount of time focused on UFOs was unexpected. As was the Richard Nixon cameo.
At times, I was reminded more of John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies more than what I’d come to expect from a Twin Peaks-related book. But that added some fun to the mystery of the fictional world, making the Peaks mystery appear more epic by taking on some familiar ‘real world’ concepts and then twisting them for the series’ intentions.
It is not a typical novel—I struggle to call it a novel at all, other than the fact that it is obviously fiction. It’s also not what you might expect from a Twin Peaks book. All I can say is that I enjoyed it. It mixes in character histories on important Twin Peaks regulars with all the conspiracy madness. You’ll get a detailed background about Big Ed and Norma and then you’ll be back in UFO territory. It’s crazy. And I kind of loved it for being so crazy.
What hints The Secret History of Twin Peaks might have for the revival… I do not know. It’s all canon, obviously. The show has been very careful not to spoil anything for fans. The Secret History is no spoiler. It adds to the mystery. It’s fun, elusive, and weird. I’m looking forward to reading The Final Dossier, just as I can’t wait to see the new show.
Twin Peaks returns on Showtime tonight. The Secret History of Twin Peaks can be bought today at Amazon.
I had never read 1984 before this week. I felt like I had, which is at least part of the reason why I’m slow to pick up many classic novels. 1984’s influences are far-reaching. We know what it means when a government plan is called ‘Orwellian’ and we know to be fearful. And the 1984 ideas are seen all the time in pop culture, from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to more mainstream titles like V for Vendetta and The Hunger Games. So yes, I felt like I knew the book well before ever opening it. But even so, I must remember that that should never be the reason to deny oneself a good book.
I was of two minds as to whether 2017 was the year to finally read 1984. First off, you should know that I am not pleased with the results of the 2016 US election. (Warning: I have opinions.) Not just because my choice lost, but because I feel unsafe under the leadership of the man we got. Dude wants to be a dictator and it’s only because I doubt he’s ever read a book that I know he didn’t get all his ideas from dystopian science fiction.
Apparently, I was not alone in thinking of fictional dystopian regimes when our newly elected maniac started telling us what the truth is. 1984 became a bestseller again shortly after the introduction of ‘alternative facts’ to our daily discussion. (The Handmaid’s Tale and other dystopian classics also saw sales bumps.) I wanted to read 1984 in 2017 because I wanted to see what the book had predicted and wonder how we’d not seen it coming (also, hey, it’s supposed to be a good book). On the other hand, the current administration had left me flipping between rage and despair on an almost daily basis, and did I really want to explore more of that in fiction? Isn’t now the time for comedy and escapism? Well, I guess curiosity got the best of me.
So, yeah. Reading 1984 in 2017 was one of the strangest, most upsetting experiences I’ve ever had with a work of fiction.
Big Brother’s party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears in favor of their version of the truth. Does that sound familiar?
The first half, which detailed how the world of Oceania worked, was almost too much for me. I nearly quit on it. The book’s prose is brilliantly written, the world-building so precise it feels (all too) real, and the plot, though simple on the surface, is addicting to unwrap. But in my current mindset, I was not prepared for how submissive Big Brother had made his people. That the resistance forces only exist in rumor is such a hopeless concept. In the first act, our hero Winston’s biggest act of rebellion is to write in a diary.
It was not until Winston fell in love that I began to see some hope. The lover escapes to a little apartment for lovemaking and whispered secrets was a rebellion on a small, personal scale. That their romance was doomed from the start was always obvious to me, and that the rebellion never resulted in anything more than the defiance of dead men was also quite clear.
It is a dark book. It is also an honest book. When truth no longer matters, neither do consequences or rule of law. War is fought because that’s the way of things. ("War is Peace.") International conflict is constant, though the enemy is always changing, despite what the state news says (We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia). It’s madness, but it’s a madness that’s been perfected for the purpose of beating the populace into submission.
Much of 1984 hits too close to home. It was not meant to be used as an instruction manual, but I suppose I see how it could’ve been helpful as such. (Sometimes I know I can sound like an alarmist, but isn’t the notion of living under a fascistic, truth-challenged dictatorship an alarming thought?) In the later pages, one of the high-ranking party officials comments on the failings of the Nazis, the communists, and so on. Big Brother’s party is successful because it is built on hate; hate for humanity, hate for the inferior, hate even, potentially, for life itself. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.” And that, it occurs to me, is something that our orange friend has in common with Big Brother. There is no effort to show they’re meeting us half-way. There is no real effort to show they’re doing what they do for the good of the people. For the Environmental Protection Agency, he hires a guy that’s suing the Environmental Protection Agency. To oversee contraception at HHS, he hires a woman who doesn’t believe in contraception. It’s chaos, yes, but it’s also about stomping out the things we once held up and declared to be true. It is about stomping on us, too. However, unlike Big Brother’s hate, which was cold and precise, our man is powered by stupid hate, a bully’s hate, and unless greed proves his undoing, then his emotional stupidity may yet.
Our resistance is a resistance that’s unafraid, one that’s raised its voices and clenched its fists. We may have to endure some unendurable shit before the end, but I don’t see our world going the way of 1984, no matter the stunning similarities we already share with that work of fiction. (The book, I want to remind you, is nearly 70 years old.)
I will just reiterate that 1984 is a brilliant piece of writing. Well deserving of five stars and its time-tested status as a classic. I’m glad I finally read it. I did not enjoy reading it – most of the book is unpleasant, made only more so in 2017. But I’m glad to have taken that journey to Oceania. I got a good story out of it, and I might’ve gotten a little extra fuel to rage against the lies and stand for what I know to be true.
2 + 2 = 4, y’all.
My new novel The Greater Evil is now available in paperback and to celebrate I’m giving away two signed copies over at Goodreads! (US members only, sorry.) I’m also giving away one signed copy of Death’s Good Intentions, because hey, why not? Both giveaways run until May 28th.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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