During the height of its popularity, people debated the secrets of Twin Peaks all the time. It became the most popular show to create water cooler discussions, since there was always so much going on, so many strange things, and so many secrets.
One of the secrets of the show was the mysteries held within the diary that Laura Palmer kept, and left behind with her Meals on Wheels shut-in friend before she died.
The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer was released between Seasons 1 and 2 of the show, and provided die-hard viewers with some major insight into one of the major characters of the show- even if she was never actually alive on it. The book became a New York Times best seller, and was penned by the daughter of series creator David Lynch, Jennifer Lynch.
Instead of arguing about the merits of the writing- it does a good job to read mostly like a diary written by a teenage girl- it is more important to focus on the things that it revealed about Laura, as her secrets were beginning to become exposed on the show.
Laura was definitely the epitome of a character struggling with duality. She was a good girl gone bad, and The Secret Diary takes us through her fall from grace, as she discovers her raucous sexuality, and love of drugs, particularly cocaine. Laura is constantly conflicted about who she is. She is the teen queen of Twin Peaks, respected and loved by all, but she has a very dark side that she tries her best to cover up. She falls in with the wrong people, and makes poor decision after poor decision, always trying to escape her own dark side by doing things that ironically bring her closer to the dark side.
One of the interesting tidbits from the book are her involvement with BOB, the psychotic killer and representation of all evil, that haunts her, and taunts her, throughout her life. It is the interactions that she has with BOB that lead her to sleepless nights, which eventually lead her further into drugs and sex. For those who have watched Twin Peaks, and understand the role that BOB had in her death, it is an interesting case of foreshadowing, without revealing too much about how she is going to end up dead.
But she knows that she is, that she has started down a path that will provide no happy ending for her.
The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer offers us some nice insight for the show. It creates a back story for the most secretive character in the town. Many of the things that emerge from the diary are seen or re-created in the film prequel to the series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which chronicles the final week of Laura’s life prior to her murder. For those who would have read the book between the seasons, it also gives us a little information that is not revealed until season 2, which would have made people who read the book know things that others did not, such as the final location of her true diary. There are also clever tie-ins with the show, in that some pages of the diary are ripped out, as they are in the show. This is done so that not too much is revealed, such as the killer, or the twisted relationship that she had with her father. It is one of the more intelligent book tie-ins to go along with a television series: giving us enough to keep watching, but not so much that we have no reason to keep viewing. It is a good teaser.
Laura is a messed-up girl. As we move forward through the series Twin Peaks, we realize how damaged and broken she was, that she was not the prom queen that everybody wanted to see in her. She was a tortured soul, and barely kept her life together for a long time before she died.
There are a couple of curious things that the book raises. How was Laura able to be such a good person, while hiding such a dark side? As in, how did she have enough time to tutor Johnny Horne, deliver Meals on Wheels, teach Josie Packard English, go to school, date Bobby Briggs, do a ton of cocaine, work at Horne’s department store, also work at One Eyed Jack’s, sleep with half the town of Twin Peaks, participate in forest orgies, maintain a friendship with Donna Hayward, and fall for James Hurley? This is the busies girl of all-time! Also, she tried very hard to hide her dark side from the outside world, trying to keep it contained. But judging by the amount of sex, partying, and drugs that she took part in, how is it that nobody ever revealed or spoke about her secrets? How could her wild life, which involved so many people from the town, still be unknown to everybody? These are the slight flaws that are raised by The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, simply because we now know so much more about her than we do from just watching the show.
This is definitely a quick read, and a pretty good one for true fans of the show. It allows us to see behind the character that really serves as the centerpiece of the show, since it is her death that brings everything together, and begins to unravel the secrets of the mysterious town.