Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3 for 3

Well, I did it: lost another weekend to Steig Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. There's not much that I can add to the millions of words/reviews/blogs already devoted to this phenomenon ("book" just doesn't seem to capture it).

For myself, I still had trouble with all of the multi-syllabic Scandinavian names. I still think that having a better sense of the geography of the country would have helped but lacking it was probably not a serious handicap. Some of the violence is over the top, especially the part with the nail gun - what an imagination! AND there are some very thoughtful passages about the role of a Secret Police in a democratic society: think CIA in the United States. In the end it is this social commentary that I think was Larsson's mission although it is not that for which he is being read or may be remembered. How much of Mikael Blomkvist is Larsson's alter-ego?

In a recent article by Charles McGrath in the The New York Times Magazine, there was mention that Larsson's long-time girlfriend may have possession of a 4th manuscript on a laptop computer. There was also an assertion from some quarters that Larsson never had enough talent as a writer to have authored the three books in the series. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops along either of these lines.

PS: The icing on this three-layer cake may be the article in the July 5, 2010 issue of The New Yorker by Nora Ephron: "The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut." It is very clever and very funny. Read it as soon as you finish Hornet's Nest while you still remember the details.

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