Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna – Review

Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna book review logo

By Sarah Morgan

David Lynch holds a unique place in this movie-lover’s heart. He directed The Elephant Man, my favourite film of all time, but also Dune, which is the worst film I’ve ever seen.

But then again, few auteurs have polarised opinions quite as much as Lynch has – and that’s one of the reasons why he remains so fascinating. So when it was announced that he was writing an autobiography, fans and critics alike were thrilled – at last we would get to see the real man behind some of the most indecipherable productions made during the past 50 years.

However, despite being more than 500 pages long, I’m still not sure I’m any the wiser about Lynch or the motivations for his work.

The format of Room to Dream is an unusual one. Each chapter is split into two, with the first part written by Kristine McKenna, who pieces together key moments from Lynch’s life and career featuring testimony from those who have worked him or know him best, including each of his wives, his eldest daughter Jennifer and various collaborators.

Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna book review coverThe second is written in response by Lynch himself, who delivers his own take on the memories stirred by McKenna’s words. Sometimes he agrees, others he has a different take.

“Fascinating insights”

The book itself is a weighty tome, but it’s simple to read – unlike some of the subject’s movies. And although it’s hugely enjoyable, I’m not sure I know anything more about where he’s coming from.

Having said that, there are fascinating insights into Lynch’s working methods, including his casting process, where the look or attitude of someone is far more important than their acting capabilities.

Everybody seems to adore Lynch too, even the women he has loved and moved on from, including Isabella Rossellini, who admits to being heartbroken when he suddenly ended their relationship, seemingly out of the blue. Is he really such an all-round great guy? There’s nothing in his own sections to suggest he isn’t, but the tome nevertheless does feel somewhat airbrushed at times, as if we’re being distracted from the real man behind the words.

Having said that, if you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss out on some of the anecdotes, particularly those regarding what will probably be regarded as his magnum opus – the mighty Twin Peaks, while his interests outside movie-making, including meditation, art and music, also get their fair share of the limelight.

‘Room to Dream’ by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna is published by Canongate, £25 hardback


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