Monday, January 9, 2017

Books 2 and 3: "The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper" and "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer"

I'm talking about books 2 and 3 for this year as a pair, because they kind of are. The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer are both tie-in books for the early 1990s television series Twin Peaks, which is coming back to Showtime this year. As part of the preparation for the return, I decided to reread the secret diary and to read the autobiography for the first time. There are similarities between the two books, but also a number of differences.

Both books attempt to give more background material on main characters from the show. In an ideal world, this would enhance the experience of watching the show, but it really only works for the secret diary. In the show, Laura Palmer is the honor student, Meals on Wheels delivery driver, special education tutor Homecoming queen, and after her murder Agent Cooper discovers that Laura hid a number of very dark secrets. Her secret diary expands on that, detailing her descent into drug dealing and prostitution and the reasons behind it. The book, which actually appears in the show, gives voice to a character who doesn't really have one for the simple reason that the first time Laura shows up in the pilot, she's already dead. While she eventually speaks a little through tape recordings and video tapes, this book is the only time fans get to hear her speak for herself.

The autobiography, on the other hand, adds almost nothing to the show. It's the story of Agent Cooper's life as told through tape recordings he made from the age of nine onward, but it doesn't tell the story of anything that fans and viewers would want to know. Wondering how Cooper became a devotee of mysticism? This book won't really tell you, because Cooper didn't make any tapes during that time. Wondering about his career in the FBI before he went to the town of Twin Peaks to investigate Laura's murder? Sorry, those recordings are classified. On the other hand, if you're wondering what puberty was like for a young Dale Cooper, well, there are pages of it. I can't imagine that any fans of the show who bought this were all that glad that they did so.

So, I read two books. One of them expands and illuminates the fictional world it is based in, while the other is a shameless grab for fan cash. That probably explains why the secret diary has been put back in print, while the autobiography, which I paid a dollar for at a library book sale, is now selling for fifty bucks on Amazon.

I'm assuming people who are willing to pay that are people who haven't read it.

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