My cultural highlight of the year has been David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Return. Prior to the 18-hour televisual epic starting, Frost released The Secret History Of Twin Peaks, a neat recap with a few Easter eggs. Now we have a further tie-in volume, reflecting on the events of the series. In part, it allows him to tell stories that were not in the show. Conspicuously absent, for example, was Lara Flynn Boyle’s character from the original, Donna Hayward. In this “novel” – I use the word advisedly as it, like the former tome, is a series of classified reports written by in-show character Tammy Preston – we learn what happened to her. (It follows a particular, recurring arc: not good).
The section on another actress, Heather Graham, who did not reprise the role of Annie Blackburn, is one of the melancholy highlights of this series of snapshots.
Part of the joy of the series was its ambiguity. Part of the weakness of the “final dossier” is in attempting to make clear what should have been left eldritch.
While he leaves the fate of Audrey Horne smudgy – although there is a reference to a husband, there are also hints at confinement – other parts of the story become explicit. Although Agent Preston begins by referring to the murder of Laura Palmer in the original series, by the end no-one can quite remember it. It was a “disappearance” and her father didn’t crack his own skull in a prison-cell while possessed by a demonic entity, but committed suicide through grief. That haunting final episode, where the hero, FBI Agent Dale Cooper, seemed to rewrite history, seems also to have paid off. (Although the final scream in the series might undermine that reading.)
Like the TV version, there is an unsettling balance between gothic horror and slapstick comedy. One very minor character in the original, the vampish Lana – rather winkingly referred to as having “the eternal appeal of the ‘dark feminine’ archetype” – gets a quick cameo on the arm of “a notorious resident of a certain eponymous tower on Fifth Avenue, who was either between wives, stepping out or window shopping”. Yes, that’s where Trump Tower is, and yes, he is wearing the strange jade-green ring which symbolises darkness and corruption. This is a book with a lot of anger about where America is going, set around an idyll that never existed.
Frost mops up effectively, but are there clues for the future? The “final” of the title might not be a complete closure. There are hints about the mysterious Judy, but the last words encapsulate a sense of nextiness. “We mustn’t give up. Ever.”
*Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost, Pan Macmillan, £16.99