The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of the those books that makes you feel like you’ve found a hidden gem that nobody else knows about. The striking yellow cover catches you instantly and says “buy me right now” in a way that rarely happens online but used to happen a lot in good old fashioned brink and motor stores. It took me back to shopping bookstores as a young man, where I could take my time, browse around and find a book the “spoke” to me based on little but the cover and the dust jacket.
Then you learn that it outsold Harry Potter at one point and you realize you’re not the only one who stayed up all night reading this fantastic thriller and its sequels.
While the first book is filled with some atrocious exposition dumps that my editor would chop with a maniac’s fury, it has an incredible protagonist, a compelling plot and compulsive readability.
Sadly, Larsson died 9 November 2004 at the age of 50 from a massive heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs. The sad conflict that followed his death has already seen a lot of press, but I’ll give you the quick run down. A 1977 will, found soon after Larsson’s death, declared his wish to leave his assets to the Umea branch of the Communist Workers League. As the will was unwitnessed, it wasn’t valid under Swedish law and all of Larsson’s estate, including future royalties from book sales, went to his father and brother, who he didn’t get along with and hadn’t spoken to in years. His long term partner Eva Gabrielsson, who found the will, has no legal right to the inheritance, which sparked controversy and an ongoing legal battle with his brother and father.
The three Millenium Trilogy books were already made into movies in Sweden and played around the world. Now the movies are getting a Hollywood make-over. I saw the new trailer the other night when I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It’s got David Fincher at the helm, so I’m willing to give it a chance. He’s got a lot of leeway since Fight Club, despite his butchering of the third Alien flick. The first movie in the Swedish trilogy nailed the essence of the book and managed to cut out the exposition dumps. Actress Naomi Repace gives a badass performance, capturing the spirit and look of Lizbeth Salander perfectly. The first movie rips along and doesn’t flinch from the ugly and brutal parts of the story. The rape scene hits hard and I wonder whether the US version will shrink from the same visceral experience? I think Fincher has the guts, but we’ll see.
The Girl Who Played with Fire stands out as the best of the three book. Unfortunately, it’s also the worst of the three Swedish movies. In the book, Ronald Niedermann, the massive Goliath with the double barreled genetic diseases of Gigantism and Cipa, makes him an absolute monster who can inflict incredible damage but can’t feel pain. He comes across as a palpably menacing figure in the books but in the movies not so much. I had my doubts they could cast him correctly and they failed big time. Frankly, without CG it might be impossible unless Andre the Giant comes back from the dead. Here’s hoping the American remakes don’t fuck up the first flick but manage to fix the second and third.