This month, for those of you with, shall we say, quirky tastes in literature, we have a couple of new books you may find intriguing and worth a read.
Back in the day, the television show Twin Peaks, created by the very weird David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, among others), was a cult classic. The story of an investigation of a murder in a bizarre town, with a somewhat quirky investigator in the lead, the series kept people asking questions and arguing about what was really going on. Now, in preparation for the upcoming Showtime tv series that continues where the original series (and its one sequel) left off, we have a new novel in the world of Twin Peaks, called The Secret History of Twin Peaks, written by one of the two writers of the series, Mark Frost. The book is NOT for people who have no knowledge of the TV series, as it really does go into the history (all the way back to the Lewis and Clark expedition), complete with footnotes (there’s something I’ve always found charming about the inclusion of footnotes in novels), in an almost obsessive focus on all the minutia of the series. The book is presented as a report by an unnamed investigator, so it doesn’t read like a normal novel, but if you’re into the series and looking forward to the new season, this is a must-read.
If you’re not into weird television shows but still like books that take you off the beaten track, you should check out Mister Monkey by Francine Prose. The characters are all associated, one way or another, with a long-running (maybe TOO long-running) off-off Broadway children’s musical about a larcenous but playful pet chimpanzee called Mister Monkey. Margot, the main character, has been playing the humiliating role of the monkey’s lawyer for so long she’s convinced her acting career will never survive this musical, until one day she gets a letter from a mysterious anonymous admirer, and something happens between her and Adam, the 12 year old heading into adolescence who plays the monkey of the title, on stage that shakes her and everybody else up. From actors on stage to the author of the books on which the musical is based to members of the audience to the Monkey God himself, everybody has a take on what the musical is really all about, and very few of them can be trusted as narrators. Francine Prose has a way with images: you can see and hear and even smell the theater where the musical is being held, and the characters come to vivid life as their prospects and present lives collide and fall apart around them.