New memoir Room to Dream, co-authored with Kristine McKenna, suggest just being David Lynch is an art in and of itselfby Wendy Ide / August 20, 2018 / Leave a comment
Fans of the director David Lynch can be divided roughly into two categories: those who see the man and his work as a puzzle to be solved; and those who see him as a mystery to be embraced. Any book about Lynch—who seems to relish being a professional enigma—is likely to disappoint at least one set of his admirers. And while Room to Dream, a blend of memoir and biography co-written by the filmmaker, does shed some light on a man who, both professionally and personally, is drawn to darkness, it is unlikely to fully satisfy either camp.
The book explores Lynch’s creative process by tracing the threads of his childhood inspirations into the fabric of his adult work. However, it does little to unpick the knottier aspects of his oeuvre. Anyone who has seen Lynch interviewed in public will know that he is a master of the art of evasion. In conversation—and in his films for that matter—he is given to making gnomic statements which could mean anything, or nothing. His answers in person are well-trodden paths that lead back to his safe spaces: his fondness for transcendental meditation, for example. And while writing a memoir forces him to delve deeper than he would normally be comfortable with, the protective walls built up over a lifetime are not easily smashed down.
Of course, Lynch’s idea of a safe space isn’t everybody’s: in one of the early chapters about his childhood there is a jolly interlude in which he steers us through a greatest hits of memorable animal deaths.
Elsewhere, readers might be surprised at the banality of some of the anecdotes related by this sculptor of nightmares. In place of wisdom about the art of filmmaking we get him wibbling on at length about a really nice cake. Banality has always been present in Lynch’s work, except it’s usually juxtaposed with violence or some throbbing hint of menace.
This kind of duality, which has been an abiding theme in Lynch’s films and television shows, informs the structure of the book. Co-written with critic Kristine McKenna, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, it is presented as a dialogue with two alternate perspectives. McKenna writes a chapter, usually anchored to a film or television project, based on exhaustive research…