Friday, January 14, 2011

Revisiting the Millennium Trilogy

Publishers Marketplace pointed me toward two articles on Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.

The first is an article in Canada's National Post here, which dropped this bombshell:
In a new memoir to be published next week, Eva Gabrielsson says that she wants to finish writing a fourth volume in the massively popular series of thrillers written by her longtime partner, the late author Stieg Larsson.
In my December 10 post here, I reported that, because Larsson died without a valid will, his father and brother inherited his estate. The pair offered to sign over Larsson's half of the apartment he shared with Gabrielsson "if she would turn over his laptop, which supposedly held an unfinished fourth novel. She refused to give in to what she called 'extortion.' Bad press led to the family finally signing over Larsson's half of the apartment."

Of course, Gabrielsson faces a very huge impediment to publishing her partner's novel if she finishes it. Presumably, the father and brother own Larsson's copyright to his characters. The National Post acknowledges this issue along with a tantalizing insight into the proposed fourth book via a quote from Agence France-Presse :
[Gabrielsson would only finish the fourth book] once she gets undisputed rights to his work from the Larsson family.

“It is not my intention to recount here the plot of the fourth volume,” she said. “On the other hand, I want to say that Lisbeth little by little frees herself from her ghosts and her enemies.”
At the same time, The New Yorker has an article here that tries to decode why people love Stieg Larsson's novels.

Reviewer Joan Acocella and I agreed on two issues. Readers of this blog may remember that, last July here, I said:
The structure of the novel is similar to that of a sandwich. The financial crime story is the bread surrounding the mystery of Harriet's disappearance. The mystery whizzes along; the financial crime story plods endlessly.
Acocella also hated the pace, and I nodded in agreement with her assessment of Blomkvist when she said:

The most crippling weakness of the trilogy, however, is its hero. Mikael Blomkvist is so anti-masculinist that, in a narrative where people are brandishing chainsaws, he can take no forceful action.

I was surprised that Acocella made the following error when describing Lisbeth Salander:
Early in the trilogy, we find out that when Lisbeth was a child her mother was regularly beaten senseless by her mate, Alexander Zalachenko, a Russian spy who had defected to Sweden, where a secret branch of the security police put him on the payroll, thinking that he could tell them useful secrets.
Acocella is wrong here. Larsson didn't tell us about Lisbeth's parents until the second novel in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire. In the first novel, Lisbeth visited her mother on holidays, but only referred to what happened in their past as "The Evil."

Acocella believes that part of the attraction of the Larsson trilogy is "the absolutist morals" of the "revenge story." I agree with the absolutist morals part of her assessment. I liken the books to the cowboy tales of my childhood: the white hats pitted against the black hats (or Indians). We like stories in which good [although Lisbeth pushes that description] triumphs over evil.

Acocella also suggests that readers are titillated by the rapes. That was certainly not the case for me. I regarded much of the sexual content of the novel as Larsson's male fantasies allowed to run amok. [shrug]

For me, the chief attraction of the novels was Lisbeth Salander. She intrigued me and made me care. I wanted things to turn out well for her.

I hope there is a fourth novel. I would like to see how Salander ends up.

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