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The Secret History of Twin Peaks

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The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Mark Frost has a new Twin Peaks book out! Grab it on Amazon.

 

(Odds are very high that we do an episode about this book, so if you have any questions or thoughts for us that you think would make for good discussion on the podcast, write them to twinpeaks@idlethumbs.net, or just post them here like you always do :) )

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A few spoiler-free impressions for anyone who, like me, had no idea what this thing was (wrapped for anyone who wants to go in cold):

 

- Except this first one: It's a really nicely designed book. If you want this, you probably don't want the e-book.

 

 

- It's a hefty, full-colour hardcover with some complex layouts and really strong art direction. (Edit: Not full-colour. It is actually a very limited colour palette used in varied and striking ways -- very cool.) I expected a conventionally sized and formatted novel with some illustrations but this is not that. There are photos and many, many reproductions of "in-universe" documents. Just flipping through it, it seems dense with that stuff. I don't think any of this would translate well to the e-book format. 

 

- It's a novel by way of annotated documents from before, during, and after the events of the first two seasons. The ratio of text to art is very high, like the art direction is in service of the conceit, not padding the length. 

 

- I'm extremely wary of lore and even the existence of this book, but the structure and execution make me want to dig into it. That said, it is absolutely fan service executed at a high level and it is long. Not a coffee-table book for fans but a book-ass-book for fans.

 

Edited by mondryle

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UGGGGGGHHHH  I am about ten pages away from the end of the book and guess who gets added to Twin Peaks lore?

 

 

 


Donald Trump 1990.jpg

As a rumored paramour of the widow Lana Milford.  She deserves better than that!
 

 

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My copy arrived this morning. Sadly I don't know if I have much time to read it at the moment but it should make for a nice distraction over the Christmas break. Strangely enough, despite only ordering a single copy and only being charged for said copy, two books came in the mail today. Were it any other book I wouldn't have given it a second thought but the weirdness of Twin Peaks had my mind immediately thinking of a scenario where a doppelganger book existed, which made me chuckle. 

 

 

IMAG0173.jpg

 

 

 

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Here are some spoilery thoughts.

 



Things I liked:
  • The Lewis & Clark section worked surprisingly well.  It was the section heaviest on Twin Peaks mythology, but used it with a light touch and then let the real-life tragedy of Meriwether Lewis do the rest.
  • Hawk's narration of the Big Ed and Nadine romance was probably the section that best captured the voice of one of the characters.  Besides Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Horse has been the most visible former cast member used as a talking head in publicity, so hopefully they give his character a lot to do, too.
  • Dr. Jacoby's interpretation of Laura's death, blaming it on the family and social structure of Western Civilization, is also a really good use of character.  Apparently the letter that revokes his medical license is dated a few days before the end of the series, so by the time he brings Mrs. Palmer to the Double R he's no longer a doctor!
  • Oh, Dr. Jacoby's super-70s paperback cover is definitely worthy of inclusion in Henry's Firewatch lookout tower.
  • Toad is officially a Bookhouse Boy!

 

Things I didn't like:

  • Most of the book!
  • Any scene that takes place outside of Twin Peaks is really strained.  Tying Area 51, Alastair Crowley, and other 20th Century occult arcana to Doug Milford is NOT the same as tying it to Twin Peaks.  A lot of what Frost includes is true-to-life, but it doesn't inform our understanding of the town, and Doug brings very little of it back with him.
  • The explanation of the Log Lady's mark is just so lazy.
  • The section written by Agent Cooper is out of character and WAY too judgmental.
  • Out of all the things to retcon, why Norma's mother?

 

In a recent interview with Brad Dukes (the author of Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks), Mark Frost reveals a few details about the writing of The Secret History of Twin Peaks:

  • Frost chose Doug Milford as his featured character because he felt readers would have few preconceptions of him from his brief appearance in the series.
  • Frost did not rewatch the series while writing the book.  He wanted his characters to have their own recollections of events since they were the ones narrating.  If they didn’t match what was on the screen, that was just a trick of imperfect memory.
  • David Lynch was not involved in The Secret History of Twin Peaks.

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I thought this was a fun read. Some messy thoughts now that I've cooled on this admirably bananas thing:

 

Edit: I clarified some of my thoughts on the idea going around that the book is a riddle to be solved, which originally read like I was ragging on the book for the readings it was inspiring.

 

 

 


- Very much agreed that the Hawk and Jacoby sections were among the strongest. I would have thought revisiting these characters would be the most off-putting and corny, in a cringey fan fiction sort of way, but they captured more of the charming weirdness of the show, and were more engaging in their own right, than anything else in the book. 

 

- Which makes the rest feel even more superfluous and strained. I enjoyed the convoluted conspiracy theory lunacy of it all, but ultimately that stuff meandered and didn't really hang together with the characters and setting of the show. Instead it felt like Frost struggled to work them into the Milford story, and vice versa. That said, I thought the way it tied Briggs in worked just fine. I buy that all of this stuff led to his top-secret X-Files sort of work, so it doesn't feel entirely forced.

 

- On the subject of whether this book is a riddle to be solved (because the impression I get from Reddit is that it is): It would be cool if I was wrong and just missed a lot, but I don't think it actually is, not in the sense that the annotations, documents and the identity of the Archivist are deliberately misleading, or continuity errors point to an alternate timeline, etc. In light of the way people are going full hivemind on it, that aspect of the book kind of feels like a missed opportunity to be a bit more complex and ambiguous, especially since its design totally leans into the idea that the reader is poring over evidence and there is this interplay of three different voices at any one time. But sometimes a framing device is just that. I don't want to hold it against the book for not being some kind of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective thing where you are actually doing the work of the FBI agent. I'll just say I didn't get to the end feeling at all like I had to reconsider everything I had just read, so either I'm not that clever or it just isn't that kind of book.

 


- It's interesting to note that this isn't the Season 2.5 book that was originally pitched, about what the characters have been up to in the interim. There is a tiny bit of that, though, which I enjoyed. 

 

- Frost and the artists who worked on this obviously cared about making a cool thing, and that aspect of it is consistently very good. The Dr. Jacoby book cover and the carefully formatted book excerpts in particular are a highlight. 
 

 

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8 hours ago, mondryle said:

I thought this was a fun read. Some messy thoughts now that I've cooled on this admirably bananas thing:

 

  Hide contents


I thought the way it tied Briggs in worked just fine. I buy that all of this stuff led to his top-secret X-Files sort of work, so it doesn't feel entirely forced.

 

 

This is a really good point.  It's a shame we won't get to see this actor in the new series.

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13 hours ago, mikemariano said:

 

This is a really good point.  It's a shame we won't get to see this actor in the new series.

Yeah, definitely. Looking back, the writing in his voice closer to the end was also really good, enough to recall his presence and bum me out.

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I kinda forgot about this, but a few days ago I made a recording of me singing lyrics in German about the new Twin Peaks book to a German folk melody. Well...

Here it is:

 

The singing sounds strained because I didn't transpose the chords low enough before I scribbled them all down. At least I developed better intuition for the next time...

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Late to the party, but just finished listening to the audiobook. Not sure I want to go back and read the book. But I'll echo that I most enjoyed the Hawk and Jacoby sections, they felt sincere and added a bit more flesh to those bones. As far as spoilers go I think I might posit: 

Spoiler

The secrecy and misdirection of Nixon and Doug Milford did seem to me to be a decent in-world explanation for the weird way that Gordon Cole operates. Particularly with Cousin Lil and the peculiar need for a cryptic message when Chet Desmond and Gordon Cole are right next to each other.

 

I'm also glad that the book doesn't lay out rules for how the world of Twin Peaks operates. I want Lynch to freak me out some more in May.

 

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The only part of the book that drove me bonkers was the treatment of one character, which is all over the place. Maybe I'm just anal about dates, but this seemed so blatantly confounding that it was almost funny. Here's what I wrote on the dugpa forum at the time: 

 

Spoiler

I am in the process of finishing the book, and have enjoyed it so far. I've heard there are complaints about "chronology" but so far almost nothing has bothered me (though the Ed/Nadine backstory certainly differs from what Ed told us on the show).

 

There is one matter I found frustrating however, and it's an instance of internal inconsistency rather than contradiction of knowledge from outside the book. It's the character of Robert Jacoby.

 

Throughout the text, often within a few pages or even paragraphs (primarily in the piece on the Log Lady) there are GLARING contradictions. Given the care with which he (mostly) treats age and year elsewhere I am baffled as to why Frost didn't catch this. Sorry if this has already come up - I'm waiting to read the thread when I'm done with the book but I was so perplexed by this I had to jump in and register a complaint now!

 

Here's what we are told:

 

- Robert Jacoby wrote an article about Margaret's third grade disappearance in 1947.

- Later he said he met her in the third grade, strongly suggesting they were classmates, which would make him nine when he wrote that '47 article.

- He says after the war he returned to Honolulu  for the last semester of his senior year, implying he was 18 around 1945/46, meaning he was born in the late 20s (and would be about twelve years older than Margaret).

- He says he came back to Twin Peaks five years AFTER the war which means he wasn't there when he wrote the 1947 article for the Twin Peaks Gazette!

- We are told Doug Milford bought the paper when Robert died - implicitly shortly after Doug returned to Twin Peaks around 1969/70 (that this happened in the 70s is confirmed by the clippings of the "Twin Peaks Post" dated from that time)...but the Margaret Lanterman piece is written in 1986 and the byline says "Robert Jacoby, editor" after *pages upon pages* of anecdotes about Doug as editor in the 70s and 80s!**

- The funeral card confirms that Robert died in 1986, and lists his birth year as 1931, simultaneously making him too young for his wartime chronology (unless he graduated high school at fourteen or fifteen) and way too old to be Margaret's classmate.

 

I can overlook some slippage here or there but this was so glaring and distracting - like I said some of these contradictions were within paragraphs of one another! In a book that has carefully stuck to a historical throughline we are suddenly confronted with a timeline in which 1947 is before World War II, a newspaper editor dies twice, and a sixteen-year-old writes a news article about his nine-year-old classmate while simultaneously attending third grade in Twin Peaks and college during a five-year period in which he isn't in Twin Peaks.

 

Argh.

 

Unless there are different-aged doppelgängers or alternate universes involved here (which can't even explain all the discrepancies, especially within a single article), my only explanation is that Robert's memory was slipping in a major way during his last few days AND the archivist incorrectly stated that Doug took over the paper when Robert died - maybe he was just ill and retained an honorary byline till his death.

 

But c'mon, man...

 

**[someone on dugpa pointed out that Dougie is publisher, not editor]

 

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