Despite its cult status and attachment to a show that often relished in absurdity and occasional kitsch (particularly in its infamous second season), the book is an underrated study of abuse, trauma, and survival. Much has been said about the supernatural elements of the franchise, particularly the demon spirit known as BOB, and its symbolic nature. BOB is a malevolent spirit who preys upon Laura, abusing and raping her from childhood to the end of her life. He inhabits the body of her father, Leland—a fact which has led to much speculation about whether or not BOB is Lynch’s metaphorical representation of abusers and addiction (to sex, drugs, violence, etc.). Whether or not this was the intention of either Lynch (i.e. David or Jennifer), Laura’s self-destructive attempts to escape her own tortured soul is painful, to say the least.
2. Maddy Gives Laura Her First Cigarettes
By Karlene Catastrophe
There is a notable scene in the diary in which Laura publicly pleasures another woman at a party on a $200 bet. Other confirmed female partners include characters known to fans of the show, such as Ronette Pulaski (a friend to whom Laura has always been attracted, and the survivor questioned by Agent Cooper in the series), Josie Packard, and One-Eyed Jack’s madam (aka her boss), Blackie Rose.
If you want to fully grasp the pieces that make up the Twin Peaks puzzle, The Secret Diary is essential reading, difficult as it may be. Several moments shed light upon events that take place in the show, and while these are not necessary in a broad sense, they certainly enhance the experience.
There is solid evidence that Laura died because BOB was actually trying to inhabit HER, and death was her only escape. Some view her self-destructive behavior as less of an escape from pain and more of a slow-burn suicide to escape her own body before it could become possessed. This event with Harold actually supports this theory quite well.
As Bobby and Laura spend more drug-fueled nights with Leo Johnson, Laura immediately picks up on Bobby’s attraction to Leo’s wife, Shelley (which results in the affair that continues throughout the series). She is mildly perturbed, but she doesn’t try to stop it, due to the fact that she “can’t love Bobby the way he deserves to be loved.” At one point she even states that Bobby and Shelley would be good for one another. In spite of all this, Laura admits that she started the Meals on Wheels program at the Double R Diner (an event that becomes a crucial plot point in the series) in part to compete with Shelley.
WARNING: This article contains major, MAJOR spoilers for Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me, AND The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. Be warned!!!
1. Laura Speaks to The Log Lady
The log cabin of Jacques Renault, where Laura partied the night of her death, is where Laura spent many of her drug-and-sex addled nights. She describes it in the diary as the place where she parties with Jacques, Bobby, Leo, and Ronette. She uses all four of them to access drugs and escape her daily torment from BOB.
At one point in the diary, Laura lists the initials of people with whom she has had sexual encounters (a total of 40, as of February 1988, plus what she refers to as “several unseen unknowns—out by the cabin”). For fans of the show, the first few are fairly obvious (B is for Bob, B.B. is Bobby Briggs, L.J. is Leo, etc.). There are valid theories supporting some of the rest (J.H—James Hurley?), yet a puzzling omission is B.H.-- Benjamin Horne.
In one of the diary’s most disturbing revelations (in terms of Laura’s morality), we learn that a very high Laura forced her friend, the agoraphobic botanist shut-in Harold Smith (to whom Laura delivered meals) to have sex with her. She expresses immediate remorse for this, yet she sees this as evidence that she is becoming more like BOB, writing “sometimes I hate myself more than you can imagine for the aroused feelings I get when I see Harold’s frightened face, which must be the same thing BOB sees when he looks at me.”
12. Laura Had an Abortion
In a series that thrives on mystery, it seems as good a time as any to revisit the tie-in-novel that caused a stir upon its 1990 release. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer is written from the perspective of the town golden girl, whose brutal murder and covert dark side rocked the small town of Twin Peaks. Aside from the controversial Fire Walk With Me, the film that followed the series and divided fans and critics alike, this is the best source for anyone who wants to get to know Laura beyond the image of the dead girl wrapped in plastic, or the cryptic figure in the alternate dimension known as The Black Lodge. The book (which was written by David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch, and is widely considered pseudo-canon) chronicles the final four years of Laura’s life, from her twelfth birthday to her final, panicked entry. This book is not for the faint of heart. Even though the series went as dark and surreal as a network television series in the early 90’s could muster (a reality of which the current season takes great advantage, as it takes us into even darker places), the book is so graphic in its depictions of sex, violence, and drug addiction that some bookstores in 1990 refused to carry it. Laura’s story is not pretty, and the insinuations made about her character in the series via coded language by the surviving characters prove to be truer than one could even imagine.
9. A Coked-Out Laura Kills a Little Girl’s Cat
14. We See How Bad Bob Really Was
6. Johnny Horne Becomes an Anchor for Laura
First of all, we know from the show that Ben admits to having slept with Laura—which makes the events chronicled in the diary all the more creepy. Laura describes parties she attended with her family at the Great Northern, writing “Benjamin puts me on his lap or knee and sings to me softly in my ear.” (Eww). Laura says she feels pity for Audrey, because it is clear that her father pays more attention to Laura than to his own daughter. This seems to answer the frequent question about why Laura and Audrey weren’t friends, despite the fact that both young women are coquettish, quirky, and independent.
15. We Learn More About What Went On at Jacques Renault’s Cabin
We know from the series that Laura spent time tutoring Benjamin’s mentally-challenged son, Johnny. Yes, she does it to earn extra money for cocaine, but she becomes a gentle companion for Johnny, telling him stories and indulging his penchant for shooting toy buffalo with his bow and arrow. He becomes one of the VERY few positive anchors for Laura when her addiction to dangerous behavior is at its height. It makes sense that Audrey, despite her supposed jealousy toward Laura, tells Agent Cooper that she “sort of loved her” for being such a good to friend to her brother.
5. Laura’s First Consensual Sexual Encounter Parallels a Scene from Fire Walk With Me
Here is a list of a few particularly noteworthy revelations in the diary that fans of the series will find quite weighty. Please note that this is FAR from a definitive list, and Peaks Freaks should check out the book for more.
7. Laura Possibly Knew About the Affair Between Bobby and Shelley Before THEY Did
Remember Laura’s cat? Another memorable moment in the diary is Laura’s encounter with a little girl named Danielle. Laura, high on coke, accidentally runs over the girl’s cat, and she is distraught to see that the dead cat resembles her own cat, Jupiter-- “a cat identical,” Laura writes, “to the one I considered a best friend before some drughead like myself came along…I was the person years later I had hated for taking my cat away from me when I needed his company the most.” The cat’s owner, Danielle, not only shows Laura mercy, but proceeds to comfort her. Laura sees her younger, lost self in the girl, writing, “I saw myself four years ago….Jesus. she even sounded like me.” Later, Laura dreams that Danielle is now being tormented by BOB, because of her, and wonders if she should warn her.
8. Laura Was the One Who Convinced Bobby to Start Dealing Cocaine
13. Laura Attacked Harold Smith
3. Laura’s Pets Symbolize Her Lost Innocence
In addition to these events, there are tiny references to the show peppered throughout the diary:
The first few entries chronicled depict Laura’s love for a pony named Troy (a supposed birthday gift from her father, which is later revealed to actually be from Benjamin Horne) and a cat named Jupiter. When Laura begins to spiral into her coke addiction, she impulsively releases Troy, only to later learn from Ben Horne that her pony is shot in the head after suffering a broken leg and several other injuries. The cat, Jupiter, is killed by a hit-and-run driver. Both of these pets represent an innocent side of Laura, and their brutal deaths mirror the loss of that innocence—and the loss of Laura’s life.
Fans of the show now know who killed Laura Palmer (while inhabited by the murderous spirit of BOB), but at the time of the book’s release, this was still a mystery. In her last entry, Laura writes, “I know exactly who BOB is, and I have to tell everyone. I have to tell someone and make them believe.” She says she is planning to give her journal to Harold for safekeeping, and the text claims that Laura was found dead “just days” after this final entry. Although many fans will not approach this as the mystery it was when first published, it is a challenging, disturbing, exciting, lovely, and vital read for diehard Twin Peaks fans.
Early in the diary, young Laura dreams about an address, 1400 River Road, and decides to ride her pony to the place to see what it means. This is revealed to be the home of Margaret, The Log Lady, with whom she has an intriguing conversation. She tells Laura “Things are not what they seem,” and her comments, which are spoken with love and concern, grow increasingly cryptic. Laura writes about how nice the Log Lady is, and how she feels as if this mysterious town resident knows more about her than other people.
Early in the diary, Laura and Donna sneak out to meet a group of older men. They go skinny-dipping, and while Laura goes a little farther than Donna (Donna, characteristically, pulls back fairly quickly), both girls stop short of having sex with the men. In Fire Walk With Me, Donna accompanies Laura to The Bang Bang Bar, mostly in order to call Laura’s bluff when she tells Donna she couldn’t handle her lifestyle. When Laura sees a drunken Donna, stripped down and preparing to have sex with a stranger, she abruptly stops her own sexual encounter to rescue Donna, terrified that her innocent friend is taking the same dark path she has chosen. It is especially poignant when you consider that this is one of Laura and Donna’s final moments together before Laura’s death.
Last month, Showtime resurrected Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s cult masterpiece of the early 90’s. Rather than a reboot (which seems to be the trend these days), this is a new season—a continuation of a story that was unceremoniously halted on a cliffhanger. It has been fascinating to watch this series unfold 26 years after its last airing--on a premium network that allows more risks, with much of its surviving cast intact, and under the direction of a man who has made great artistic strides since the show ended.
10. Laura’s “Number”
When Laura gets more involved with Leo, she and Bobby start to drift. When Bobby starts lamenting this fact, Laura talks Bobby into selling cocaine for Leo in exchange for “traditional” dating.
4. Laura and Audrey Were Rivals For the Affection of Benjamin Horne (As a Father)
Laura’s older (mostly identical) cousin, Maddy (whose death in the series, also at the hands of Leland/Bob, is one of the most terrifying moments of the original series) visits Laura the day after her 12th birthday. In their treehouse, Maddy reveals a pack of cigarettes to Donna (who refuses to smoke them) and Laura (who tries them, and likes them). Maddy also tells the girls about how she “kisses her boyfriend with her tongue.” How ironic—sweet little Maddy scandalizing preteen Laura!
Because Leland has not yet been revealed (in the diary) as the vessel for BOB, we are given BOB’s frightening, demonic form. His verbal abuse is in all caps throughout the diary, and there at times it seems as if BOB is doing the writing. He says unimaginable, awful things that are truly disturbing to read. If you are fortunate enough to hear the recently released audiobook version of the diary, read by Laura herself, Sheryl Lee, you will hear Lee’s reenactment of BOB’s voice, which is absolutely bone-chilling.
11. Laura Also Slept With Women—Some of Whom We Recognize From the Show
Late in the diary, Laura writes one of her poems about BOB, and there is a vague mention of a baby. A few entries later, we learn that Laura is, indeed, seven and a half weeks pregnant, and that she has no idea who the father is. She details the procedure in the brief entry that follows, and while she does follow through, she mourns the loss and wishes that “whoever this child was would come back when the time is right.”