The Drifters by James A Michener (Books 2018, 29)

I think I’ve read this more times than any other book except Illuminatus!, and maybe The Lord of the Rings. Which may be only three or four times. A friend got into Michener when we were teenagers. None of his books much interested me, until I looked at this.

It’s a tale of hippies and others in 1969. Six young people from various countries meet each other in Torremolinos, and drift around the Iberian Peninsula and parts of Africa. The narrator, seemingly detached third-person at first, turns out to be an older man who knows some of the young people, and arranges business trips so that he can hang out with them from time to time.

It’s about what was going on in the world — Vietnam, the Arab/Israeli conflict, drugs, music — and about the characters. They aren’t that well developed — indeed, he largely abandons character development after the first six chapters where he introduces each one — but those introductions are enough to see us through.

Actually, thinking about it now, I wish he had written more about some of them. A sequel would have been in order.

It’s partly, I suspect, Michener’s own struggle to come to terms with the way society is changing — he was born in 1907, so he’d have been 62 at the time this is set. It was published in 71, so maybe a tad older when he wrote it. The narrator, George Fairbanks, is younger than that, I think — probably in his fifties, maybe even forties, but people seemed to become old at a younger age back then.

Well worth a read.

The Drifters by James A Michener (Books 2018, 29)

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost (Books 2018, 5)

I watched the new series of Twin Peaks in January, but haven’t got round to writing about it yet. In part, maybe, because I knew I wanted to read this. In part, because I want to watch it all again.

The series was amazing: an incredible, beautiful, challenging piece of art. But, as always with Twin Peaks,1 there was the question at the back of my mind: is he using surrealism to raise real questions, to investigate mysteries, to raise our consciousness? Or is it just weirdness for weirdness’s sake?2

In the end I lean towards the former. Maybe the whole thing is like a zen koan: if a portal opens in Ghostwood Forest and no-one is there to see it, what will come through?

Anyway, addressing the book at hand, what we have is quite a short volume which is presented as being a report from FBI Special Agent Tamara Preston to Deputy Director Gordon Cole (played by Lynch himself in the show, of course). Its ostensible purpose is for her to summarise what she and the Bureau have learned from the events that the recent series covered, and some other offscreen investigations. It follows on from, and comments on, last year’s Secret History of Twin Peaks.

Much of it repeats what was in the series, but it does add detail and help to clarify some things. For example it’s probably not a spoiler to confirm that the girl in the 1950s in the glorious nightmare of episode 8 was, indeed, Sarah Palmer, as Warren Ellis has speculated. (It was in his newsletter, which doesn’t seem to have a public archive.)

But it also follows up on what happened to most of the characters from the the original series that we didn’t hear about in the new one, giving us much-needed closure. Or at least convincing us that the creators didn’t totally forget about Donna, for example. Along the way it does what the new series failed to do, in that it answers the question raised at the end of the original series: “How’s Annie?”

It’s worth reading, but it doesn’t remove the need for me to watch the whole new series again.

  1. And maybe with all of David Lynch’s work. []
  2. “Everybody’s wild at heart and weird on top.” []
Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost (Books 2018, 5)