Actual November Reads:
The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost
Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Petersen
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami
Did you know I mistakenly titled my previous blog entry "November Reading", and wrote about November in it, but all of the books I wrote about were read in October? Let's just call this my Dan Rather moment, and be grateful that it happened when the stakes were fairly low.
I don't know that I can recommend any of the books I read this month, but I absolutely loved two of them. I read The Secret History of Twin Peaks in a 24 hour marathon, shortly after finishing my binge-watch of the original TV series, something I'd missed when it first came out.
I don't know how I missed Twin Peaks for so long. I was a nerdy teenager, an X-Phile and a fan of the paranormal, but only knew Lynch through Mulholland Dr., a movie I found clever and frustrating as a teenager and disappointing on a recent re-watch. Twin Peaks first appeared on my radar thanks to news of the series revival and the ensuing proliferation of critical narrative analysis works. After hours of background reading, I was hooked during the title sequence, taking place even before the show opens with the discovery of the body of Laura Palmer by laconic Pete Martell. The title sequence, with its slideshow images of a rural community in the northwest and the haunting theme by composer Angelo Badalemnti, is one of the most unique and memorable in TV history.
The series ends on a cliffhanger, and I picked up The Secret History looking for both a sense of closure and a reunion with the quirky inhabitants of Twin Peaks, but found neither. Instead, it's a tale of secret societies at war, specifically the Freemasons and Knights Templar, vying for control of the United States. The exploitation of the indigenous people of the northwest region leads to an ancient curse, which sets the stage for the Black Lodge and the evil supernatural forces that haunt Twin Peaks.
The book is really a prequel to the original series, although it's billed as a bridge between the original series and the revival. If you, too, were obsessed with Charles Berlitz's portrayal of Atlantis and alternative histories, I'd highly recommend this book. If you're just looking for a nostalgic trip back to Twin Peaks, though, I'd pass on the book and go to Netflix for your fix.
The second book I loved, Absolutely on Music, was a lovely book about classical music by Murakami that seems to have been unpopular with classical music fans and Murakami readers. Most criticism seems focused on the lack of depth and rigor in Murakami's musical discussions. I don't know if they're right, but found the work both illuminating and charming. Ozawa comes across as a delightful character who I'd love to just sit around and chat with, and I found a number of works of music that I've listened to repeatedly after reading their conversations about them. I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this book, but I've re-read sections of it already, and really enjoyed feeling like a guest to the wide-ranging conversations of these two.
Finally, the book I didn't enjoy was Just Ride, which bills itself as a practical guide to riding your bike, but really feels more like a series of screeds or rants. I'm largely in agreement with the author, a popular blogger and bike maker, but found the essays largely unconvincing and joyless.
Much of the book is devoted to 'unracing', that is, decoupling cycling from a culture of racing and bike racers. I've never raced bikes and have no interest in taking up the sport, and am largely a solo recreational rider, driven by the desire to be in nature at a pace faster than walking but slower than driving. Despite what I share with the author, though, I just found his tone to be too cranky and argumentative to relax and enjoy reading it. I felt like I'd rather use the time to ride my bike. Furthermore, the book on the whole felt disjointed and disconnected, more like a series of blog posts than a single work. If you're part of the choir you might enjoy this book, but I suspect even converts will find it unsatisfactory.
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