In Which We Return To Twin Peaks At Some Point

The following review covers the first two parts of Twin Peaks: The Return.

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David Lynch: The Return

by ELEANOR MORROW

Twin Peaks: The Return
creators Mark Frost & David Lynch
Showtime

twin-peaks-key-art.jpegThe burning corpse of Twin Peaks that David Lynch left behind when network executives and his partner Mark Frost tried to fuck with his creation at the end of 1980s has been alight for twenty-five disturbed years. Lynch has examined volume after volume of his dreams and committed them to film since those halcyon days. Some of his efforts, like 2001’s Mulholland Drive exceeded his original vision for Twin Peaks; others became a bit overcomplicated for even his most devoted fans, even if the cinematography itself was typically one-of-a-kind.

This Lynch cares about pleasing no one again. It is in his very capable hands that we find Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). The fifty-eight year old performer is remarkably well preserved, which makes thematic sense because he has been in another dimension, the Red Room, for all of this time. His dark doppelganger (Kyle MacLachlan with shoulder-length black hair) is in North Dakota, where two murders have taken place when Twin Peaks: The Return opens.

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Two clueless cops find the head of a librarian in her apartment, the eye blasted out of its socket. After turning back the blanket, they find the torso of an obese John Doe mismatched to her pretty head. The local school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) is the number one suspect, since his prints are found all over the librarian apartment and he knew the victim. In a few relatively straightlaced scenes, Frost and Lynch give us half the pleasure found in the original Twin Peaks: that the show was at its most amusing and poignant when it fundamentally dealt with the mundane.

The other half of Twin Peaks was the wild, spooky melodrama of the Black Lodge, where a demon possessed inhabitants of this Washington town. The moments in Twin Peaks: The Return when Agent Cooper struggles to free himself of his interdimensional confinement are replete with hokey, yet unnerving special effects, and the visuals are at times outright frightening. Lynch takes us to a room in midtown Manhattan where a young man views a glass box. His only job is to see if anything appears in it.

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Such a set-up, ominously underscored by Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score, is a metaphor for the open possibilities of Twin Peaks, the town. We return to the familiar residents of the place for good at the end of the second episode. The eternally handsome James Hurley (James Marshall) is still wearing his leather jacket, observing the table where Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) sits with friends. It is in these nostalgic moments where we suddenly realize how grateful we are that this is nothing like the Twin Peaks of decades ago.

So much of the original Twin Peaks was a shocking, amusing send-up of what television had become. Rewatching any of the first run of the show now, it is easily to see how much of the television that followed came out of the feel and style that Lynch developed. The original show still gives off a modern feeling.

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In order to shock us again, Lynch now has the benefit of premium cable standards and practices. Twin Peaks: The Return is frequently gruesome. It turns sexuality into a weird nothingness that fades before the everyday. Its characters are continuously waiting to be astonished by something in their lives, and when that ultimate moment arrives, they do not shy away. Boring people, Lynch insists, are not what they seem. They have their moments.

The original Twin Peaks had one key flaw that makes the show rather difficult to watch at times. That was the performance of Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry Truman. Ontkean was straight out of central casting for all the lame cop shows that Lynch was half-parodying here, but since Twin Peaks exceeded what it was making fun of at nearly every turn, his awkward, stumbling performance just got in the way of Kyle MacLachlan, as Truman is forced to portray a clueless straight man in every scene.

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Fortunately, Ontkean smartly gave up acting a number of years ago, probably because he was not very good at it. Replacing him are a bevy of newcomers. Some are Lynch’s particular favorites, and some are actors he has admired but never had a chance to work with before. Since the individual scenes of Twin Peaks: The Return have every chance of making very little sense to the audience, the rapid pace of the cameos and casting against type helps turn the show into a bizarre retrospective of Lynch’s career in film and television.

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By the end of the second episode, Agent Cooper has freed himself from the Red Room, ending up in the glass box. A demon follows close behind, and the show intends to follow Cooper back to the town where his life properly began. The town’s waterfall and school look nearly the same; its residents are somewhat aged.

Even amidst all the confusion, David Lynch creates so many new feelings and archetypes to exploit, and Twin Peaks: The Return is more gleeful than anything. His basic theme throughout each iteration of Twin Peaks is the continuous discovery of all the places where human dignity can be found, uncovered, and disbanded. Horror, for Lynch, is a pretext to a more elucidated understanding, and he finds this more easily in a phrase, an aside, or a vision that any commonly understood form of elegy or coda. That is why he never wanted Twin Peaks to solve the murder mystery that propelled it from scene-to-scene: because doing so would only mean a false catharsis. They were all the killers.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan.

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In Which Feigning Illness Appears A Solid Bet

for a master of hats

Sisters Before Misters

by ELIZABETH BARBEE

As a child I preferred the nurse’s office to the playground. Tetherball wasn’t my thing, and after an unfortunate spill, I swore off swing sets. To be clear, I wasn’t a wimp. I was sophisticated.

Like many Americans, elementary school teachers view disinterest in contact sports as evidence of a deeper problem. Convincing them to let me skip out on dodge ball was a struggle. Feigning illness seemed like my best bet. I faked sore throats and stomachaches. I became so adept at mimicking the symptoms of sickness that I began to believe I actually was sick. I staggered through the halls almost daily, the back of my hand pressed against my forehead like Greta Garbo. If I had known the expression “woe is me” I would have used it.

When I reached Nurse Hoover’s office I flung myself onto one of several white cots and demanded peppermints. Their mentholated taste made them seem medicinal. “Could it be Lupus?” I asked. “Give it to me straight.” Basically, I was Anna Chlumsky in My Girl only not as cute. I had a jaggedly cut chili bowl that my mom tried to feminize with grosgrain bows larger than my head.

I knew about Lupus because I had recently discovered a series of young adult novels centered around teenagers with incurable diseases. They were authored by a woman named Lurlene McDaniel, who must be a really intense person. Her books are titled things like Too Young To Die and Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, so you look hardcore when you read them in public. I do not think my hypochondria could have reached the heights it did if not for the aegis of these texts. They provided me with great material.

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Any time a mysterious bruise appeared on my body I knew the end was near. This inspired  many philosophical questions. If I die, who will take care of my Tamagotchi? Should I leave my rock collection to my best friend, Allison, or my crush, Derrick? Derrick works at Cracker Barrel now and is probably not into rocks. Thank God I went with Allison. Sisters before misters!

My parents were fairly supportive of my macabre habit, because I am their only child. If they lose me, they don’t have a spare kid to prove they can keep something alive. The second I complained of a twitch in my left eye or a faint tightness in my chest, they rushed me to the pediatrician.

Dr. Murphy was no Nurse Hoover. For starters he charged. At the end of each appointment he offered my mom the bill and me a lollipop, which was a real blow to my ego. He also had a moderately famous twin brother, Vince, who didn’t do his reputation any favors. Vince owned a local music store notorious for terrible commercials that I was sure Dr. Murphy had a hand in producing. Reflective sunglasses and screeching guitars seemed just his style. Worse still, he was onto me. “You aren’t running a fever and your vitals look normal,” I remember him saying. I wanted to wipe the smile from his face and seek a second opinion.

It was not that I wanted to be sick. It was that I did not want to be crazy. Our culture is more forgiving of poor health than insanity. Cancer gets you pity, but an imagined medical illness just lands you in the looney bin. People do not send flowers to the looney bin. I learned this from watching Girl, Interrupted.

In my experience, hypochondria is not something you overcome so much as it is something you learn to ignore. After taking myself to the emergency room twice in college, I decided it would be better to die quietly in my apartment than suffer the embarrassment of learning I was just having a panic attack. This has greatly influenced my interior decorating. I refuse to go down looking at a mass produced Breakfast At Tiffany’s poster. If you have any hand drawn art at a reasonable price, send it my way.

Elizabeth Barbee is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Texas. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

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In Which Amy Schumer Confines Herself To The World

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Tripwire

by ETHAN PETERSON

Snatched
dir. Jonathan Levine
97 minutes

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 9.51.49 PMRoger (Christopher Meloni) is a fellow traveler Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) and her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) meet in the Colombian jungle. Just 14,000 years ago, the residents of the region farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton. These three hikers do not even know what is edible. When Roger takes them to a valley they must cross by swinging on a thick vine, he suggests he go first because “I am the man.” Women deal with this kind of sexism all the time. It is called “casual sexism” because it is not really ill-intentioned. Snatched, an important film that also features a scene where a romantic interest inadvertently catches sight of Emily Middleton wiping her vagina with the aid of a bathroom mirror, has Roger swing manfully to his death when the rope breaks.

Unfortunately and somewhat ironically, Meloni is the best actor in Snatched by far. The film is a substantial improvement on Ms. Schumer’s last “comedy,” in that it actually features some, but not many, jokes completely unrelated to the fictitious idea that she is unpleasant, unkempt, and unattractive. As her fervent fanbase can readily attest, none of these things are actually true. She is a lovely woman whose oversized cheeks only add to her considerable beauty.

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In a key scene where Emily Middleton sunbathes at a resort in Ecuador, she shows off her body, which is also quite impressive. Later, she humbly suggests that her slim physique is due to a tapeworm, which is extracted orally in an extensive and graphic scene. Emily recovers from this parasite in a native village with a disturbing patriarchal culture. She is so offended by the sexism she finds there that she destroys their way of life. These heady subjects all occupy space in the best screenplay Katie Dippold (The Heat) has ever written.

Hawn is not given very much to do in Snatched. The character of Linda Middleton is an overbearing single mother; it is unclear why her relationship with the father of her children fell apart so many years ago, or why she has refused to have any sex in the years that followed. Dippold introduces this woman in a scene where she writes up a rough draft of a dating profile before deleting it in disgust. The profile says that she loves cats and Grey’s Anatomy. Later on, we are informed that Linda is learning how to be a sculptor, although her daughter immediately dismisses the singular art she produces.

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Emily Middleton also has a brother named Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz). Barinholtz, recently the author of the Kevin Hart comedy Central Intelligence, plays an overly verbal loser in most supporting appearances. As he tries to recover his mother and sister after they are kidnapped and brought into Colombia, he makes a trip to the State Department when he cannot find anyone who will listen to him over the phone. This is a taxing and anxiety-ridden journey, since Jeffrey is substantially agoraphobic and makes his only income teaching piano lessons to young people.

Dippold acquiesces to Schumer’s typical self-deprecating humor, but she treats Jeffrey’s illness with astonishing sensitivity. The characters of Snatched are all ill, in fact. Whatever technology permitted them to stop farming maize and potatoes, as the first humans did quite easily, has also meant an end to any intrinsic chance of happiness. Emily Middleton’s boyfriend Michael (the talented Korean-American actor Randall Park) explains that he is breaking up with her because she has no direction in her life – he is tired of her focus on appearances, and declines to accompany her on a trip which has the intrinsic purpose of subjectifying native cultures while having frequent, unemotional sex.

In another less sensitive film, the Middletons would befriend some locals who would show their inherent aboriginality. In Snatched, these white women are outsiders to every part of the culture. They are treated with respect for the most part, and they only come to harm out of their own stupidity. Emily in particular fights back with a velocity of violence never employed by her captors. Using an arrow, she kills the young son of the man ransoming her and her mother, and caves in the skull of another man who is transporting them to nicer living quarters. “You are an excellent murderer,” Linda observes of her daughter.

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The Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda was the first conquistador to discover Colombia. (He also gave Venezuela its name.) His expeditions were thoroughfares of rape and murder; no women and children were spared by his men. He was so ashamed by his actions that at the end of his life he died penniless and alone after ensuring that people would walk over his grave as punishment for his colonial acts of subjugation.

Emily Middleton’s emotional journey is remarkably similar. On her next trip, this time to Kuala Lumpur, she stays within the tourist trappings so that no one else can be hurt. Emily has not altered who she is, she has only the knowledge that her inherent destructiveness must be contained to prevent it from harming the people around her. There is something so completely non-redemptive about Snatched, a refreshing, if depressing testimony to how little of life we are even capable of living.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

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In Which We Use The Word Incessantly

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

This past year in college, I have developed an extremely clingy friend who I will call Billy. Billy is not a bad guy or anything like that; he just believes that he has found his best friend and I think otherwise. If I sound callous that is because I am a little tired of him representing to other people on my behalf.

This summer will likely be even more challenging, since Billy chose an internship in the Midwestern city I am from. I have friends from high school I plan on spending the summer with and I don’t want Billy around all the time.

Can you help?

Alex T.

Dear Alex,

This sounds more like an unrequited love affair, which is a lot easier to dispense with, since you can start an affair with someone else. While normally I would suggest you commence immediately with an off-putting habit that will send most people running in the other direction, I suspect Billy will embrace your newfound love of cigar smoking and become the cigar king of Chicago.

Since any oversized move you make has a chance of backfiring, you should play this more subtly. Get a feeling for the things Billy would not be willing to do with you. Here are some possibilities you can hesitantly explore:

AA/NA meetings

Juice bars

Escape rooms sometimes offer internships

Crack rock

Bird/beekeeping

Whatever it is that Billy finds disgusting will be your ticket out of this unwanted closeness. You’re welcome.

Also, when you lie, don’t touch your face. Also, when you lie, don’t touch your face.

Hey,

My boyfriend Kyle and I have a great relationship. We spend almost all our free time together and we rarely argue or fight. He’s really supportive of me and never criticizes anything I do. 

There is one problem though. Kyle fancies himself an amateur gourmet. He is always planning some recipe composed of farm-to-table ingredients. Once he smiled at a lobster he was about to boil, which was a little strange, but the larger issue is that Kyle can’t really cook. His meals are so adventurous that they’re frequently inedible. He consumes them with aplomb and never seems to notice my lack of enthusiasm. How can I make him stop without getting in leg-deep shit? 

Angela D. 

Dear Angela,

Just come up with some strange diet plan that requires cooking things that even this Julia Childish can’t screw up.

Preface your lie by saying that you had an allergic reaction to one of his terrible meals (preferably rabbit, since humans should not consume rabbits except as a direct fuck you to Beatrix Potter). Explain that you were tested for allergies and it turns out you have some rare condition which involves never consuming the worst of his preparations in any form whatsoever.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

In Which We Frenetically Displace Elisabeth Moss

By Numbers

by DICK CHENEY

The Handmaid’s Tale
creator Bruce Miller
Hulu

After Netflix thought it was a good idea to make a show glorifying the suicide of children, I can’t really fault Hulu for doing the same with adultery. In the most recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss has sex outside of wedlock five times. For the most part she sticks to straight missionary, and she only enjoys sex one of every five times. (1/5=20%) Each sexual experience that she has is challenging, weird, and has the real chance of being illegal or against her will. Here are my reviews of the sex.

Sex with the chauffeur

Max Minghella has a tiny body. Sex with him is like cradling a really smooth, hairless vase. Elisabeth Moss has to sort of bend her knees to appear shorter than him. This fuck was encouraged by Mrs. Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), who stood on the other side of the room and averted her eyes. It was not immediately clear whether or not Minghella had even ejaculated until a follow-up scene where Moss shouted, “You don’t feel pregnant right after the guy gives you his load, gosh!” and then immediately apologized. What this intercourse lacked in sensuality it made up for when Moss got a little bit into it despite herself and took a breath. C+

Sex by proxy

Moss stood outside a supermarket completely still. She told Alexis Bledel (Alexis Bledel) that she was sorry they removed her clitoris for being a lesbian. She touched Alexis Bledel’s hand and they talked about getting together in early May. Even though they both had gloves on, the touch was substantial and erotic. Afterwards, Bledel drove a car over a guy’s head (ouch!) and Moss had her first orgasm of the episode, although perhaps not the last. One benefit of those large red smocks is that you can touch yourself quite discreetly. Afterwards, Bledel was apprehended at gunpoint and driven to a secure location. C

Sex with the Commander

Joseph Fiennes has this weird crusty film at the corners of his lips. This is supposed to be what happens when men receive absolute power: they stop wiping their mouths. Unfortunately for Joseph, his wife has to hold Moss in her arms while he penetrates Elisabeth for the purpose of procreation. It still seems completely unrealistic to me that a man would struggle to keep an erection in such a situation. I mean he’s a Commander; his title says it all.

The Handmaid’s Tale is remarkably averse to showing a penis considering that American Gods shows about five per episode and even had one scene where a guy looked up and saw a framed picture of a dick. During this particular sexual assault, Fiennes started stroking Moss’ thigh and grunting a smidge, which caused her to immediately launch into a prolonged voiceover. Later, she stormed into his office where they play Scrabble and pouted. He should have been like, “I’m already married.” B+

Sex with a married African-American fellow

The flashbacks are the most painful, bourgeois part of The Handmaid’s Tale, as we slowly realize how disturbed and evil American society was before it became a Puritan dystopia. Moss meets Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) waiting for hot dogs at a food truck. I was unclear on why hot dogs would require extensive preparation, but all the hot dogs I eat cost a dollar and are excavated from the hot water of some guy’s creepy cart. Luke begins cheating on her wife during his lunch hour, where he has these prolonged, flirty meals with Moss before the following conversation occurs:

Moss: I want you to leave your wife.
Luke: OK.

The sex that occurs previous to this has the most prolonged, awkward foreplay imaginable. Compared to all the other sex on the show, it feels similarly inauthentic. Moss takes so long to disrobe, and she makes eye contact the entire time she is doing so. Is this really how she has sex IRL? Isn’t the point to simply get naked?

My number one pet peeve during sex is laughing. If you are laughing during sex you are probably not enjoying it very much, or concerned about your own pleasure. That means you are paying too much attention to the other person. Sex is supposed to be an intimate, not communal act.

Moss appears to have no discernible orgasm during this intercourse, either. Mayhap she is categorically incapable, or she sensed it would probably become a gif. Luke informs Moss that he is in love with her, and then afterwards he marries her and gives her a child. So like, this is the message we are giving to adulterers now – it’s going to work out. No wonder Trump is president and I’m writing TV recaps. A+

Sex with the chauffeur II

After she is threatened by Mrs. Waterford, Moss is feeling particularly rebellious. She sneaks out of the house to embrace the teenagesque body of Max Minghella in his shed, one more time with feeling. He seems to really care about what happens to her and gives her hair a few strokes once she untucks it from her white bonnet. Her eye contact here is constant, and she throws out a lot more moans than she ever did with her husband, I guess to imply, wow, she is really psyched for this fourth time she has had sex in the past 48 hours. It is nice to have a healthy libido, but whenever I see two white people pressed against each other the only thing I can think of is Shia LaBoeuf. D

I realize The Handmaid’s Tale is not really supposed to be primarily about how much the handmaid in question is enjoying sex, but I am really tired of watching fake sex on television. Not that they should do it for real like on The Americans, but can’t they at least give us a sense of the frenetic displacement sex provides in ourselves and others? The Handmaid’s Tale falls down when it begins to feel like staged melodrama. I guess all of this half-hearted sex will make sense if it turns out that Moss’ character is a closeted lesbian, which they seemed to go to great pains to suggest during her lunch with Luke. If it is the case that she only enjoys women, what happened to pretending?

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States.


In Which Mervyn Peake Set The Standard For Us All

This is the first in a series.

The Small Room

by ELLEN COPPERFIELD

Mervyn Peake’s first home was in a Western enclave in northeast China, in the port of Tientsin. If you walked out his front door for more than a few minutes, you would experience the foreignness of the place wholesale: therefore Mervyn’s parents (his father was a doctor) and his older brother Lonnie felt it was best if Mervyn, in his first years, kept to the premises of their Victorian home.

Dr. Ernest Peaker & Mervyn

At first the house, built almost entirely of grey stone, would be enough for him. The year was 1913. In his notes for an autobiography of this period, Mervyn wrote, “Whatever happens, I return and I must return to the compound. Now that I shall see China no more… I am lost without the long dry compound.”

In this very English home, the family’s cook entertained Mervyn by allowing him to kill the chickens for their meals. Dogs, parrots and monkeys were all common sights in the compound. As a child Mervyn began writing rather early. In one note he listed his “Fears”: “the black jersey, the shapes of clothes hung over chair backs, the changeling.” It was not living things which scared him. In Tientsin Mervyn joined the local Boy Scout troop.

Summers were intensely hot in the city. As far north as Tientsin was situated, the winters could be monstrous, too. Mervyn rode a donkey to his first day of school. He found other children engaging, and became best friends with a one-eyed Russian boy who possessed a natural wild streak. “He is my God,” Mervyn noted in his journal. Confined to his Western education, Mervyn was naturally curious about the world outside his enclave. He learned Mandarin, and spoke the language until he died.

When he escaped the compound, he saw lepers and homeless who his father treated medically, and patiently moved from stall to stall where various meats and goods were sold. Chinese medicine was in a state of perpetual infancy, so Dr. Peake trained assistants in basic hygiene and physiology. He went door-to-door to find the pregnant women of Tiantsin so he might administer basic prenatal care.

Mervyn was fascinated by the procedures his father performed, but the sight of needles and blood made him queasy. Still, he sympathized with the deeply ill, finding empathy for amputees, lepers, and other victims of disease. In the summer of 1917, Dr. Peake had plenty of patients: the city had flooded and the heat was unbearable. Mervyn stuck his head into watermelons to cool off. When the heat became too much, the family went to an English mountain resort in the town of Kuling:

Mervyn’s mother Bessie was also a missionary, and she and her husband took Mervyn all over China once he was old enough. Shanghai was the most modern place Mervyn had been, and he found it “a frozen, icy, tinkling horro of mules and motor cars, western houses…. A stench of sweetmeats and dung.”

Mervyn, the man who would become England’s finest illustrator and a mercurially talented novelist, was already drawing what he could. His father Ernest possessed an artistic inclination, photographing all of the strange sights he saw, including radical surgery. He let his young son view these images at the boy’s leisure, and Mervyn would try to draw some of them, reimagining others.

Mervyn, Bessie & Lonnie

When his wife developed heart problems, Dr. Peake moved the family back to England, purchasing a practice in Surrey, and taking over an estate called Woodcroft. Dr. Peake smoked a pipe and was generally regarded as somewhat strange; such traits are usually written off in a man of medicine. Mervyn was enrolled in Eltham College, where he sometimes ran afoul of the rules. Punishment involved a caning to his precious hands.

To get along, Mervyn further developed his own interests. His cryptic journals of that time in school enumerate what these may have been: “The invisible man. The watchers. Jewels inside hooting like an owl. The sleepwalkers. The fire in the small room.” He might have been expelled from the place as a twelve year old if he had not possessed such a stunning talent for art. Although he read constantly, his spelling was never remotely palatable and he probably suffered from a learning disability. By far his favorite book was Treasure Island.

Even though he liked Eltham, he never graduated or performed well in the place. His instructors frequently remarked upon his uncleanliness, but he rarely quarrelled with fellow students. His brother was working as an accountant in the Phillipines, and Mervyn’s career path was relatively obvious. He enrolled in the Croydon School of Art, two stops away by train from his home at Woodcroft. He did not even last the year there before transferring to a Royal Academy in Piccadilly in 1929.

On his left hand he wore a silver ring with a large, green stone. It was here that Mervyn Peake encountered the opposite sex for the first time in his life.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.


In Which We Crave What Has All Gone Wrong

Living with Me

by DAN CARVILLE

Dear Daniele,

Tonight an exceedingly rash act was performed by a man who should know better. It may be that there is no completely moral act, only I hope there is.

The lights on Mott Street were fading to almost nothing on the way back. I walked from there to Astor Place, where I saw a kissing couple bang on the door of the McDonald’s. But it’s always open.

I used to take you to a bookstore near there. They kept all of the fiction in the back. Up front were the true things. It may be that there is no completely moral decision.

The rest of the way home I saw them pressing against each other, lights interchanging, flashing. It is a way to communicate, but not the last remaining method left to us.

Dear Daniele,

I understand why you felt all that was too impersonal, like I was addressing an effigy. Your analysis of me is nearly always dead on, a frightening fact that will scare our children when they read these old letters. I can pray they will not know even what a letter is by then.

Well, when I got home I did call you too many times, but that is just excitement. I remember when I slipped on the ice and hit my head (I was eight or nine that year) and all I wanted to do was tell the person who meant most to me. This was sort of like that.

If you had answered, I am sure I could have convinced you.

You were so composed, sitting on your own couch. Picking the place to fall apart is as important as selecting the time.

Dear Daniele,

I have been back and forth to the hospital too many times. The food is even beginning to taste good. I would be stupid to think this evokes any sympathy in you. That kind of caring is short term – what we feel for the suffering of others. You were more capable of the long term variety, which my mother calls devotion.

Changing someone’s mind is very hard. I know that changing yours is impossible, an aspect of how it was constructed in the first place.

Then, of course, I met someone else. You couldn’t pin down the reason for her beauty. The difficult god had returned. It was in the clear low span of her forehead, when her eyes found someone farther out than I could see. You don’t want to know my problems.

Dear Daniele,

That night, I got off the subway a few stops too early. I wanted to see who was really awake, if I could be provoked into dismissing all of this. The following weekend I went to the country. The more decisive any act is, the more chance there is of it being absolutely moral.

The hibiscus, the crafted fern. Deep in the woods the smell of a hostage to the trees. I sat peacefully, I was at rest. Here you could forget about what brought me to this farm, what brings to me to this prolepsis.

You see, I am a different man! Completely! I wrought all the meaning out of what I went through! The plasmids, the certain, last goff! You could see me at the apex, and then prancing down like someone you barely recognize! That will be me, holding the bale!

There were bats in the barn. I don’t know what they fed on exactly, flies or bugs, maybe?

Dear Daniele,

I am back in the city now, and I feel somehow you know these things, what I think to tell you before I say it in my own inimitable voice. We sold the lingua franca, we bought the flowers and a potted plant that it could be said might last for decades. Those last hours in the arbor, before forty-five minutes of stopped traffic on the FDR. Are things becoming worse or better? For you, I mean?

Candidly, I hope you dream of me. A promised life is real enough. I can’t meet another woman in a sweatshirt, or find something derelict next to the castor oil. I am not that type of person, or even if I am, I am not the type of person to realize I am that type of person.

It is always kind to shut the door on the way out of your room.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.