Having finished the three Stieg Larsson books, I'm left with a number of thoughts. They are very compelling reading, but by no means the pinnacle of literary grace.
Nora Ephron's hilarious essay, The Girl Who Fixed the Umlat (New Yorker, July 5, 2010), is a spot on parody of some of the glaring characteristics of the books. Yet, how hard should we be on an author who is no longer alive to defend himself? And, for Swedish readers, some of the points that Ephron makes aren't issues. Folks like to read books with local details. Was Larsson's intent to write for a world wide audience? We'll never know.
I've listened to the discussion on NPR / WBUR (March 19, 2010), The Stieg Larsson Story. Tom Ashbrook (On Point) moderates a discussion with the American editor of the trilogy and the Swedish journalist who interviewed Larsson shortly before he died (with additional comments by the Danish filmmaker who made the trilogy films and the Swedish actress who plays Salander).
After reading the books, does one really want to see the movies? There is so much unsavory violence in their plots, would it be bearable to see it acted out? Bloggers have been written that perhaps there is some aspect of salaciousness in both the writing of the books and the public's fascination with them. Such a curious mixture, since there are also strong arguments made that Salander and Mikael are 21st century updates of the individualism exemplified by Astrid Lindgren's children's book character, Pippi Longstocking.
I think we have to take Larsson at face value and believe that he was a crusader in fiction as in life, attempting to expose harsh realities of abuse, victimization, and politically inspired conspirators.
Lisbeth Salander's character has hit a nerve. Her hidden intellectual talents combined with street smart savvy, physical courage, and withdrawn personality seem to be a compelling combination. Do women want to possess her skills and ability to fight back? Blomqvist's stubborn crusading streak to expose wrongs as he sees them in his society is a stronger attraction to his character than his romantic liasons. In the final analysis, Erika Berger is shown to be less than super human herself, which I, for one, appreciated. The good "guys" (not all men), Palmgren, Bublanski, Modig, Giannini, Linder, Armansky, and Jonasson (even Plague?) are a necessary antidote to the myriad of evil characters and behaviors we're forced to endure for the stories to proceed.
I was left wondering how the purported idea of ten books would have played out. Many big plot themes were tied up at the finish of the third book. However, some important ones weren't. It seems that there was material to mine regarding Lisbeth's unheard from twin sister. Blomqvist's attachments seem to have the potential for more fodder, though at a decreasingly interesting rate (at least for female readers). Was I alone in feeling that the relationship between Figuerola and Blomqvist had a lot of false notes? Was Larsson setting up a scenario where Figuerola ends up being quite strange? How would Harriet Vanger reenter the picture? One hopes that Larsson would not have continued to harp on the types of violence already depicted in the first three books, as there had already been more than enough detail to last a lifetime.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Haitian Ada, given to E as a birthday present...Designed by Alan Dart as a fund raiser for Haiti earthquake relief. Donation made to the American Refugee Committee which is helping refugees on the ground in Haiti."Ada is a Hispaniolan solenenodon, a shrew-like creature that is unique to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and is wearing a dress inspired by the Haitian national flag."
Hat: based on the US Olympic team's opening ceremonies hat but this one is a stocking cap.
at 7:27 PM