Thursday, December 22, 2011

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The movie has opened and it is raking in big bucks. On some quiet afternoon next week, I’ll go see it and feel sad that Stieg Larsson did not live to see his great success.
by Charlie Leck

For a blog I wrote a week or so ago (Women and Sex Abuse in Minnesota), I went hunting through Stieg Larsson’s book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to find a couple of quotations. While hunting there, I found another…

“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”
I’ve thought about that a lot. Don’t ask me why! It’s cute and it may accurately describe the moment when you realize you’ve fallen in love; however, being in love is something so much more. Love is not a moment; it’s a realization that you are committed for the long haul – that this person for whom you have these feelings is the best and most precious thing that has ever happened to you and you want that relationship to continue forever.

As Christmas approaches, I think about these things. I choose my gifts in such a way that they might be symbols that will express the deep and abiding feelings I have (the emphasis should be on the word abiding).

Stieg Larsson and his trilogy of books!
When I mentioned last week that I had read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I had a couple of readers email me and ask what I thought of it and whether I was going to see the movie.
The book captivated me! The story was incredible but, somehow, authentic. I went with it and got involved in it and couldn’t put it down. It was tough, however, and I wouldn’t want my wife to read it – or my children for that matter (though most of them have).

Yes, I’ll probably see the movie. My wife won’t want to see it. She can’t stand that kind of fiction and she’s revolted by it. A good Seabiscuit movie is up her alley – or the New Muppet Movie. After Christmas I’ll wander into a theatre and catch the two o’clock showing of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Another asked if I’d read any more of Larsson’s books? Yes, I read the trilogy. I don’t know why. I’d use the same word that I used earlier– captivated. I was captivated by them. Salander – the girl with the dragon tattoo – was an extraordinary character and I wanted to follow her into more adventures.

It’s a good writer who can entwine his readers that way. We are not talking Dostoyevsky here, mind you – but a compact and neat little writer indeed. The books are mystery thrillers and, as such, they are exceptionally good. You could call them the ultimate “page turners.”

Larsson was best known as a Swedish journalist. In 1991 he and Anna-Lena Lodenius published a book entitled Extremhögern (the Extreme Right). The movement frightened Larsson. Reading about that, I must say, sort of endeared me to Larsson. He was a leader in warning Sweden against extremism, organized racism and anti-Semitism. So active and out-spoken was he that he had to fear attacks. He urged those within the activist network to keep their addresses as unknown as possible and to avoid being photographed. In 1995 he founded the magazine Expo that aimed at defining true democracy and exposing the dangers of the extreme right. Shortly after the magazine went public, newsstands and shops that sold it were attacked and damaged. It was a warning that things could get worse. It opened the eyes of many Swedes to the dangers of the radical right wing. The reaction across the nation was swift and positive. The clear dangers posed by such radicals became obvious.

Larsson was born in 1954 in the small Swedish town of Skelleftehamn. It’s on the sea, about 500 miles north of Stockholm and only about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Larsson was only a teenager, living in Stockholm, when he joined the 1968 protest marches against the Vietnam War. It was during that period that he met the woman, Eva Gabrielsson, who would become is life-long partner. By his late teens, Larsson was reading in English. Writing was always his first love and he began banging out never published stories when he was twelve.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was rejected by the first publisher who examined it. Undaunted, Larsson wrote two more volumes in the series and one of his friends, Robert Aschberg, was convinced they were good. He got them before Norstedts, a large publishing house in Sweden and, in April 2004, the company offered a contract. On November 9 of that same year, Larsson died of a heart attack – only 50 years old. The books would have made him very rich. Because he had never officially married his life-long partner and lover, she received none of Larsson's exceptional income over the years since his death. It has gone to his father and brother, from whom he was very distanced. It is the really sad chapter in the story.

I’m glad I’ve read the works. I wish Larsson had lived on.
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