If Jennifer Lynch ever applies for a grant to writer her second novel, the odds are good that the NEA will turn her down. That's because her first book ( a novel disguised as a TV tie-in for the cult hit Twin Peaks is gratifyingly faithful to the spirit of Peaks, and is therefore full of unorthodox sex, illegal drugs, casual blasphemy, and a generally negative attitude. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer makes Barry Gifford's Wild at Heart seem like Right Ho, Jeeves.
Jennifer Lynch, David's 22-year-old daughter, has decided to elaborate on the suggestion her father made in the TV show that Laura wasn't actually a very nice girl. The diary begins on July 22, 1984, when Laura just turned 12; it ends with an undated entry in late 1989, shortly before her murder. In between, there are pages about school, her first crushes, her first period, her first poems (''Deep inside are woman's hills about to come up/To see the sky''). Lynch combines these mundane details about Laura's life with her gradual descent into surreal depravity.
Like Jerry Lee Lewis, Laura Palmer listens to rock & roll music and decides that, if she must choose between God and Satan, she'll take the Devil. She parrots just-say-no slogans only to deny them (''I know drugs are bad, but I'm beginning to get the feeling I like being that way''). Near the end of the book, Laura is going to orgies with her friends and scribbling things like ''cocaine..makes me feel strong, confident, sexy, cool...'' And throughout it all, Laura makes repeated references to something that haunts her thoughts, something always written as BOB a person or spirit who compels her to become a ''bad girl.''
Jennifer Lynch has taken her father's conception of a good girl gone bad and run with it; she writes in prose style that's all the more unsettling for being so clear and simple. Lynch manages to work in most of the characters that populate the television show (even the Log Lady puts in a cameo here), but she never turns the book into a plug for the series. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer is a real shocker: a good novel. B+