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Lynch on Lynch

Chris Rodley, a fine and attentive interviewer, has compiled two of my favorite film books. The first was Cronenberg on Cronenberg, a fascinating study of the Canadian director's outré career. Now Rodley has reunited with London publisher Faber & Faber to spotlight another genius named David in Lynch on Lynch.

The generously illustrated book (with rare b&w behind-the-scenes pix and repros of many of Lynch's bizarre paintings) takes Lynch from his innocent Eagle Scout childhood to his latest cinematic puzzle, Lost Highway. As in Cronenberg on Cronenberg, the spine of the book is its in-depth, exhaustive Q&A with the director. The notoriously interview-shy Lynch is unusually forthcoming about the genesis of his most indelible film moments (why does Dean Stockwell lip-synch "In Dreams" into a hand-held work-light in Blue Velvet? Find out here).

One nifty revelation is that Stanley Kubrick once referred to Eraserhead as his favorite film and wanted to know how the infamous baby was made. Rodley delicately brings up this question, a somewhat sore spot with Lynch, who's still stonewalling us after all these years. I agree with him, though -- I'd just as soon not know exactly how the thing was done. (Intriguing rumors abound.)

The interviews in print invariably lose some of the charm of hearing Dave speak in his lovably goofy voice; for that, I refer you to the video documentary Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch. And I would've liked to read more of Lynch's thoughts on such obscure projects as On the Air, Hotel Room, and American Chronicles. Also, a whole chapter could have been devoted to famous unrealized Lynch projects like Ronnie Rocket, One Saliva Bubble, and the hilarious-sounding Dream of the Bovine, about three guys who used to be cows.

Still, rabid Lynch fans (such as myself) will welcome a book that lets the man speak for himself instead of chewing up his work and digesting it for us (i.e., Martha P. Nochimson's well-written but overly academic The Passion of David Lynch). As Lynch says: "The film is the thing. I don't need to talk about it. I don't need to do anything. That is phony stuff. The fine art of Phony Baloney."