I do not do well with Twin Peaks books. I love the show with all my heart, and I am happy with my viewing and my personal interpretation. I do not usually need other people to tell me what to think. I love to interact with other fans online, where it is a two-way conversation, but I struggle with books, articles, videos, and podcasts, where it will be just someone talking at me.
There are exceptions, of course, and the past two or three years have given us several high quality books, mainly from the camp of the Blue Rose Magazine and its team – Laura’s Ghost by Courtenay Stallings, and Conversations with Mark Frost by David Bushman, for example.
So, based on this track record, and on my own positive interactions with the author, I was open to Scott Ryan’s new publication, Your Laura Disappeared, a 190-page love letter to David Lynch’s Fire Walk With Me.
For context, I adore this film. It means so much to me and has for the past 30 years (can it really be so long?!) I watched it at the cinema on its release, and immediately loved it. It was like watching the darkest parts of myself up there on the screen, the dreadful pain of loneliness and exclusion, and the teenage battle between dreaming huge dreams and feeling completely hopeless all at once.
The following year, aged 16/17, I experienced a suicidal rock-bottom depression, and I watched my VHS every night for 6 months. I needed Laura’s angel to keep me going. I needed hope. Every night I went to sleep praying for the girls like Laura, who were out there in the night, far from home, and unlikely to make it to the morning. It was a dark time, but seeing that angel night after night changed me. For the past 30 years, no matter what life threw at me, I always had hope. That bright white light never left me (and seeing it again inside S3 Laura almost brought me to tears).
And so, I came to this book with an exceptionally high standard. I know every second of this film by heart. What can a book about it teach me?
Well, quite a lot it seems. Your Laura Disappeared is no pretentious academic lecture on a film so well-loved. This is a book about the very personal journey of the author and his own relationship to the film, a journey that so many of us will relate to.
It is no secret that Fire Walk With Me was not an enormous success at the time. Those of us who lived in small towns in the middle of nowhere had no idea about this. We lived in our own little bubble. It was surreal to me to walk into a cinema in Warrington and see Sheryl Lee’s face on a huge poster in the lobby. Twin Peaks was my own personal love, and I had no clue how many fans out there felt the same way.
Scott Ryan was one of those fans. He has loved Twin Peaks with a passion right from the start, loved Fire Walk With Me from his first viewing, and has now turned that passion into a full-time job – publishing Twin Peaks books and magazines, hosting online and in person Q & As, interviewing many of the cast and crew members, and befriending the likes of Sheryl Lee and Charlotte Stewart. What a life!
This pure love diffuses the book. This is a story of one fan’s exploration of the conception, making and legacy of the film, combining memories, interviews, original scripts, and good old detective work. There are interviews with people we do not always hear from – editor (and former Mrs Lynch) Mary Sweeney for one, and director of photography Ron Garcia.
I was lucky enough to get a colour copy, containing many full page pictures, including a gorgeous art piece by Maja Ljunggren, created just for the book.
For the record, my favourite chapter, The One That Is Meant to Help, is a beautiful conclusion, and has an honesty and sweetness that touched my heart. After reading it, I listened to The Voice of Love, and I cried. It takes a talented writer to bring that out.
I could list many things within Your Laura Disappeared that I want to talk about, but instead, I will tell you to buy it and find out for yourself. Maybe it will make you think and inspire you to write a review of your own.
It has made me think a lot, about the excitement and joy of ‘new Twin Peaks!’ so soon after the S2 finale (although at the time the wait seemed immense – how little we knew what waiting was), of how much went into deciding what to keep and what to cut from the original 5.5 hour edit, and of just how much Sheryl Lee went through in bringing Laura’s daily hell to life on our screens.
The book is written in a friendly, accessible way, with Scott’s personality and humour shining through, and is a pleasure to read. And even I, with all my confident know-it-all arrogance, learned something. Several things. That there are still new things to discover all these years later just goes to show that the conversation about Fire Walk With Me will be alive for many years to come. Just like Laura Palmer, we should never let it die.
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