- Megan Bingham
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Twin Peaks (1990-1991) - It is happening again.
Twin Peaks is an American television serial mystery-drama created by Mark Frost (The Equalizer) and David Lynch (Blue Velvet) that premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC. The series was renewed for a second season that aired until June 10, 1991. It follows an investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The show's unsettling tone and supernatural elements are consistent with horror films, but its campy, melodramatic portrayal of quirky characters engaged in dubious activities draws on American soap operas. Like much of Lynch's work, it is distinguished by offbeat humor and surrealism.¹
Twin Peaks is often regarded as one of the greatest television dramas in the 1990s. It's cult following over the years has made the show even bigger. Unfortunately in 1991, the show recieved declining ratings due to the prolonged idendity of the killer and ABC insisted that it be revealed. Ratings did not improve and the show was cancelled. A full length feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was released in 1992, that serves as both a prequel and epilogue to the series. In 2014, the television network Showtime announced that the series would return for one season, scheduled to premiere on May 21, 2017. The miniseries is written by Lynch and Frost, as well as directed by Lynch. Many original cast members, including Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper and Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, are returning. To watch the cast talking about making the show again 25 years later, watch the trailer at the bottom of the book recommendations.
If you're looking forward to the revival of Twin Peaks as much as I am, you may want to read books similar to the eerie and surreal tone of the series. Here are a few suggestions:
Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
When Dr. Leo Liebenstein's wife disappears, she leaves behind a single, confounding clue: a woman who looks, talks, and behaves exactly like her—or "almost "exactly like her—and even audaciously claims to be her. While everyone else is fooled by this imposter, Leo knows better than to trust his senses in matters of the heart. Certain that the original Rema is alive and in hiding, Leo embarks on a quixotic journey to reclaim his lost love. With the help of his psychiatric patient Harvey—who believes himself to be a secret agent who can control the weather—Leo attempts to unravel the mystery of the spousal switch. (catalog summary)
The Boys of Summer by Richard Cox
In 1979, a massive tornado devastates the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, leaving scores dead, thousands homeless, and nine-year-old Todd Willis in a coma, fighting for his life. Four years later, Todd awakens to a world that looks the same but feels different in a way he can't quite grasp. For Todd, it's a struggle to separate fact from fiction as he battles lingering hallucinations from his long sleep. The new friends Todd makes in 1983 are fascinated with his experience and become mesmerized by his strange relationship with the world. Together the five boys come of age during a dark, fiery summer where they find first love, betrayal, and a secret so terrible they agree to never speak of it again. But darkness returns to Wichita Falls twenty-five years later, and the boys-now men-are forced to reunite and confront the wounds from their past. When their memories of that childhood summer refuse to align with reality, the friends embark upon a search for truth that will threaten their lives, and transform their understanding of each other-and the world itself-forever. (catalog summary)
Read a staff review on The Boys of Summer, here.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind. (Amazon.com)
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
When Johnny Truant attempts to organize the many fragments of a strange manuscript by a dead blind man, it gains possession of his very soul. The manuscript is complex commentary on the documentary film (The Navidson Record) about a house that defies all the laws of physics. Navidson's exploration of a seemingly endless, totally dark, and constantly changing labyrinth in the house becomes an examination of truth, perception, and darkness itself. The book interweaves the manuscript with over 400 footnotes to works real and imagined, thus illuminating both the text and Truant's mental disintegration. (Library Journal)
Read a staff review of House of Leaves, here.
The Lathe of Heaven: A Novel by Ursula K. Le Guin
In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes. (catalog summary)
Leather Maiden by Joe R. Lansdale
After a scandalous affair costs him his job in Houston, Cason Statler—Gulf War veteran and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist—returns home to the small east Texas town of Camp Rapture. Cason is a wreck. He drinks too much, he's stalking his ex-girlfriend, and he's wallowing in envy of his successful older brother. To get back on his feet, he takes a job at the local paper, and when he stumbles across his predecessor's notes on a cold case murder file, he thinks he's found the thing that'll keep him out of trouble. No such luck. The further he digs into the case, the more certain he is that the unsolved crime is connected to a series of eerie, inexplicable events that have recently occurred in town. And he knows his suspicions are right on when he finds himself dragged into a deadly game of blackmail and murder that clearly has evil as its only goal. (catalog summary)
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
The nine stories in Link's second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In "Stone Animals," a house's haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man's anxieties about his future in "Some Zombie Contingency Plans" and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in "The Hortlak." (excerpt from Library Journal)
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act—different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? (catalog summary)
Read a staff review of My Best Friend's Exorcism, here.
Night Film: A Novel by Marisha Pessl
When the daughter of a cult horror film director is found dead in an abandoned Manhattan warehouse, investigative journalist Scott McGrath, disbelieving the official suicide ruling, probes into the strange circumstances of the young woman's death. (catalog summary)
Read a staff review of Night Film: A Novel, here.
The Pines by Blake Crouch
Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels off. As the days pass, Ethan's investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can't he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn't anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. (catalog summary)
In 2015, the television network Fox developed a television show based on the Wayward Pines books. It will release it's third season this year. To read a staff review on The Pines, go here.
The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
It’s a gorgeous midsummer afternoon along Poplar Street in the peaceful suburbia of Wentwort, Ohio, where life is as pleasant as you ever dreamed it could be. But that’s all about to end in blaze of gunfire and sudden violence, forever shattering the tranquility and the good times here. For the physical makeup of Poplar Street itself is now being transformed into a surreal landscape straight out of the active imagination of the innocent and vulnerable Seth Garin—an autistic boy who’s been exposed to and possessed by a horrific, otherworldly force of evil, one with sadistic and murderous intent and who is willing to use whatever means necessary to grow ever stronger. The same evil being is featured in the companion book to The Regulators, Desperation, which came out simultaneously, but under King's real name. (Amazon.com)
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace—until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the Shining Girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery. (catalog summary)
Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Nora Kelly, a young archaeologist in Santa Fe, receives a letter written sixteen years ago, yet mysteriously mailed only recently. In it her father, long believed dead, hints at a fantastic discovery that will make him famous and rich—the lost city of an ancient civilization that suddenly vanished a thousand years ago. Now Nora is leading an expedition into a harsh, remote corner of Utah's canyon country. Searching for her father and his glory, Nora begins t unravel the greatest riddle of American archeology. But what she unearths will be the newest of horrors. (catalog summary)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Since the mysterious death of four family members, the superstitious Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, her ailing uncle Julian, and agoraphobic sister Constance have lived in a bizarre, but contented state of isolation. But when cousin Charles arrives in search of the Blackwood fortune, a terrible family secret is revealed. (Library Journal)
Leland Palmer welcomes you back to Twin Peaks!