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Tattoo You

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those runaway best-sellers you see everywhere–on the street, in the subway, in airports. It was the first of three books–the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, has just been released here in the States–by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish left-winged journalist-turned-novelist. The Millennium Triology have been an international sensation but the story behind the books may be equally as compelling. Larsson died before the books were published and his long-time companion has been in a painful fight against Larsson’s father and younger brother.

Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s partner, has been portrayed sympathetically in all the accounts I’ve read of the story; she doesn’t come across as the villain in Charles McGrath’s fine–and fair–piece in yesterday’s Magazine, but Larson’s father and brother are not demonized either:

The Larssons do not strike me as greedy people. They drive small, inexpensive cars and live in modest apartments, and if they wanted to change their lifestyle they would probably have to do it somewhere other than Umea, where conspicuous consumption is frowned upon. I got the impression, in fact, that Stieg’s estate was a burden, a weighty responsibility they weren’t prepared for, perhaps didn’t feel quite up to and are still trying to figure out. Joakim gave me a long explanation, which I couldn’t quite follow, of why the Swedish tax laws make it hard to give money away, and yet slowly they have begun to do so, recently donating five million kronor, or $660,000, to Expo, the magazine Stieg co-founded.

…But ultimately the dispute is really about Stieg Larsson himself, an exceptional young man, idealistic and artistic, who in classic fashion left the boondocks and made something of himself in the wider world. Who was he, really — a Norrlander or a Stockholmer? And who gets to claim him now? The emotional stakes on both sides are huge. No matter how close he was or wasn’t to his family, he was clearly a central figure to them — someone to be admired and cherished — as he was to Gabrielsson. The tragedy is that they can’t figure out a way to share him.

[Photo Credit: Lars Tunbjork for The New York Times]


1 boslaw   ~  May 24, 2010 12:24 pm

I loved these books. Uneven at times but good page turners (although I listened to them all as audiobooks which may have made them less uneven and I didn't actually have to turn any pages : )

The swedish version of the movie was decent although not perfect. I wonder if Hollywood will make their own version, and if so, how they'll do.

Apparently Larrson died under suspicious circumstances - wonder if that's just a conspiracy theory or if there's really something there. Apparently he had lots of enemies.

2 Alex Belth   ~  May 24, 2010 12:41 pm

Hollywood is making their own version.

I've heard the prose is ordinary but the plot and the lead character are terrific.

3 boslaw   ~  May 24, 2010 1:24 pm

exactly right - the lead character seemed pretty unique and interesting to me, and I read a lot of fiction. The plot wasn't earth shattering but it kept me on the edge of my seat.

I can't imagine who they'll pick to play the lead. The Swedish version actually casted her fairly well. None of the top US leading ladies really seem to fit the bill. They'll probably pick someone like Kristin Stewart, who is the closest fit in appearance (in my mind) but I don't know that she can act well enough to pull it off.

4 matt b   ~  May 26, 2010 12:58 am

I thought that Noomi Rapace, the actress in the Swedish film, was dead-on casting. She hit all the right notes. To find another actress, this time in Hollywood, who can embody Salander is a tall order.
I do think they have the right director in David Fincher, though. I thought Seven was overrated and pretentious, and I'll cop to never having seen Fight Club, but I really was impressed by Zodiac. He should do a very good job. They will likely cast the wrong actor to play Blomqvist, though. Brad Pitt? Really?

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