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So I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
msauvage purple
To begin: foresthouse had her second eye surgery yesterday, and while this one seems to have hurt more (the procedure feels like--and, given the lights involved, may actually be like--a sunburn), she feels much better today. The first one was really successful, so we have hopes for this one. Now, to pay it off. With crafts! (Oh! I need to tag those, don't I?) I'll put Alice (no, not you, Alice) up after the first of the year.

Meanwhile, I have read my third book this week.

@cleolinda: Going ahead and starting Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Maybe I can get the famously boring parts out of the way tonight. #oh #whynot

@cleolinda: "Their talk began to explore what was ethically satisfactory in certain golden parachute agreements during the nineties." #thrilling

@kennokishi: I originally read that as "in certain golden parachute pants during the nineties," which was both accurate and more exciting.

Last night, I thought I could at least read until I got so bored I felt like calling it a night, intending to pick up this morning, but honestly, The Boring Parts weren't that bad. I mean, the endless scene with Lindberg on the boat ("Fraud. Fraud fraud fraud." "Tell me more." "Fraud fraud fraud." "Oh really?" "Frauuuuuuuud") was pretty bad, but that was really it. So I just kept on reading, since I like to read a book in one sitting (at least the first time I read it) when possible. Thus, I stayed up until two in the morning, at one point eating white cheddar popcorn out of a Christmas tin with one hand and holding the book with the other. And man, did I pay for it the next day.

@cleolinda: 87 pages in. Aside from the info dump on the boat, that really wasn't that bad. Also, thanks to David Fincher, I am imagining Daniel Craig.

The odd thing is that I was imagining Daniel Craig (who is, indeed, playing Blomqvist in the English remake--which still takes place in Sweden), but Noomi Rapace instead of Rooney Mara for Lisbeth. And I haven't even seen the Swedish movies. But that's how thoroughly Rapace owned the role, I guess, that even I knew what she looked like in it, whereas I've only seen very blurry pictures of Mara. It was the best of both worlds, probably. Mikael "Carl" "Kalle" "Authorial Self-Insert" Blomqvist is also a lot easier to take if you imagine him as Daniel Craig. Of course Blomqvist gets all the ladies, he was James Bond.

@cleolinda: Wait, did this book just stop dead to advertise software? With a URL and everything?

[Several cries of, "Wait, what book is this?"]

@cleolinda: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. PAGE 184, PAPERBACK. RT @txvoodoo: @cleolinda which book is this?


The family consisted of about a hundred individuals, counting all the children of cousins and second cousins. The family was so extensive that he was forced to create a database in his iBook. He used the NotePad programme (www.ibrium.se), one of those full-value products that two men at the Royal Technical College had created and distributed as shareware for a pittance on the Internet. Few programmes were as useful for an investigative journalist.

@cleolinda: Yeah, y'all don't remember this because your eyes totally glazed over when they got to the Vanger family history, don't lie.

@particle_person: I have been seeing product placement in books more and more lately. It's extremely distracting and irritating.

@cleolinda: But it's a full-value product available for a pittance! You can't catalogue your family/murder suspects without it!

@cleolinda: "He left out children under the age of twelve--he had to draw the line somewhere." THE EIGHT YEAR OLD DID IT.

@particle_person: I feel that tweet stands well on its own.

Other observations:

@hells_mells: any time anyone brews some coffee and makes a sandwich, take a drink.

Two shots if pickles are involved. Chug if the cheese and pickle sandwiches are being eaten in front of someone's iBook.

>> I understand the coffee, though. I mean, I don't like the taste of coffee, but I understand the characters constantly trying to drink something hot. Isn't there a point where it gets so cold that Blomqvist wants to cry? "You know, you're welcome up at the big house any time--" "N-n-n-no, I'm f-f-f-fine here in the c-c-c-cottage, where my t-t-tears are freezing to my f-f-f-face." It gets so cold that Blomqvist keeps asking when he can to go prison.

>> Prison in Sweden: pretty awesome.

>> The interesting thing is that the book doesn't just suddenly get exciting. It's several hundred pages of Blomqvist freezing in a cottage doing research and occasionally getting laid. In fact, I'm not sure it ever gets "exciting." But somehow, Larsson manages to describe Blomqvist's research--and through it, the history of the Vanger family--in a really engaging way. Somehow, the book actually is a page-turner, even though half the action reminds me more of grad school than anything. GOOGLING! COLLATING! PRINTERS! BINDERS.

>> And you know, it occurred to me halfway through that this is why the crimes in so many of these thrillers are ridiculously creative serial killers: so the reader-proxy hero/ine has a shot at solving them. If this were simply a case that had to be broken through complex scientific analysis that could only be done by professionals, we wouldn't be reading this book; we'd be watching CSI. But because this case is cracked through a knowledge of the Bible and hours spent with PhotoShop (!), it's something you or I could, in theory, do. And isn't that the appeal of so many of these books? Granted, lots of them are about the detectives, cops, and professionals themselves, but so many of them are about someone outside in law enforcement who gets brought in to solve what the police can't. I mean, that's basically the premise of The Da Vinci Code as well. Even in Silence of the Lambs--to which the back cover compares The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if it were "crossed with the movies of Ingmar Bergman"--Clarice is just a trainee, and one of the big revelations comes from her knowledge of sewing, not from anything she learns at the academy. Because so many of us are interested in the true crime genre, but we know we'd never be close enough to a case to help solve it. It's kind of a fantasy of being soooo awesome that people who are far more skilled and trained in solving crimes than we are just can't help but ask us to come take a look. Or a fantasy that even the simplest wisdom--the knowledge available to us--is more valuable than, you know, years of professional experience or training, because God knows that would actually be hard to get. No, these are thrillers that invite us, in the person of the hero, to learn all the terrible secrets and feel important when we, the outsiders, are the ones who put the pieces together.

I'm sorry, I know I keep blathering on about what books are ~really~ about. I'll try to cut down on that.

But yeah, that's why it's so often a cartoonishly creative serial killer, because there have to be clues that you could interpret without having scientific equipment or a forensic background: riddles and taunts and patterns and codes. And I went through a morbid phase as a teenager; I've spent a lot of time on crimelibrary.com; I've read a good bit in the true crime genre. I know that some pretty outlandishly horrific crimes have been committed. But I think there's a "truth is stranger than fiction" aspect--the truth doesn't have to sound believable, because it's true. Fiction has to, if the reader's going to buy it. So I'm reading off this laundry list of "Bible parody" crimes the Big Dad of the Big Bad committed, and--Larsson just really lost me at the parakeet. I know that's a really horrible, gruesome detail, but it crossed some sort of threshold and went into OH, COME ON territory for me. And that's why I wasn't as traumatized by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as--well, as I think a lot of y'all thought I would be. I'd been spoiled for a few minor things (like what happens with Lisbeth and the guardian, who is a FUCKER. Seriously, I kept waiting for Lisbeth to, like, set him on fire or something) and I was able to extrapolate from that the kind of stuff that might happen in the rest of the book. But I'm weirdly inconsistent about what does and does not freak me out. Honestly, I think the things that seem to the most real--mundane in their horribleness, really--and are dwelt on at a length where the reader experiences it vicariously through the character, are the things that get to me. So "Big Driver" freaked me out, but the many varied crimes of the Vangers merited more of an eyebrow lift. Maybe because I felt a certain distance from the over-the-top awfulness of it--more of a "Wow, you're really piling it on there, Larsson" rather than "Please let this scene end soon, I can't take much more of this." And that's even though I know that kind of thing happens in real life. I don't know. I found the Advokat Bjurman subplot to be handled in a more believable, mundanely awful way, whereas Martin Vanger giving Blomqvist the Talking Villain speech in his torture chamber--well, as you can see: all I could think of were tropes. How any given reader relates to fiction can be a weird thing.

>> That said, I did like the way that Blomqvist and Lisbeth ended up going down this rabbit hole where the crime they came to investigate was not only the tip of the iceberg, but the one crime that wasn't even actually committed. That was a nice touch.

>> I hadn't been spoiled for the end, so that was fun (well, you know) to watch unfold. I kept thinking (correctly) that the cantankerous old Nazi brother couldn't possibly be the killer, because he was way too obvious. I thought for a while Cecilia (or even Isabella) might be actively involved somehow, but, since the book was originally titled Men Who Hate Women, decided that neither one of them was terribly likely, no matter how squirrelly Cecilia got. I keep wondering if I would have been able to figure it out if I'd gotten all serious about it and, like, started annotating the family tree in the front and trying to rule suspects out. But then, we're told that Martin has an alibi--until we're suddenly told that he didn't. So that probably wouldn't have helped.

>> I got a little uncomfortable the way Lisbeth was constantly described as "childlike" and "small" and "the perfect victim." But I think that's because I came in thinking of her as Noomi Rapace, who doesn't look like anybody's any kind of victim, and knowing that this character is already kind of iconic. When you know that going in, the descriptions of fragility seem like they're undermining that. Maybe they are. But for readers who come to the book without knowing anything about it, the point may be that those descriptions are superseded by Lisbeth's badassery, which is, in turn, meant to be an empowering reversal.

>> I also wasn't quite sure what to think of Lisbeth jumping into bed with Blomqvist--well, not even the jumping into bed, but the long "holiday" relationship they then have after the case is solved. The first time seemed more like Lisbeth wanting to be wanted than Lisbeth wanting him--wanting to make sure that she's good enough for a guy who'll sleep with anything, which tells you a lot about her self-esteem. I had thought Lisbeth would be more the kind of person to sexually ignore Blomqvist, and he would be surprised to get along with someone he didn't actually ever sleep with. I don't know how that develops in the next two books, so I'll stop there. But I did like that, even once that started up, it wasn't romantic. It was a lot more about trust, really, and they had the kind of working relationship I really like to see in fictional couples. (Yes, I did spend my formative years obsessed with The X-Files, why do you ask?) Which is, to pick up a thread from the previous book discussion, why I don't like Team This Guy/Team That Guy love triangles--you spend so much time with the girl trying to figure out which guy she wants to be with that she doesn't actually get down to the business of establishing trust and partnership with him.


@cleolinda: Ow. I have a book hangover.

Yeah, I was a little confused to have a gigantic migraine all day today, because staying up late to finish a book isn't unusual. I think it was actually the air pressure of the weather changing that did me in, but staying up late, sleeping in, and not eating in a timely fashion probably didn't help. And so that's why, even though I finished the book last night--well, technically this morning--I'm only now writing it up. There it is. I will probably take a book break for a few days to get some writing done, or watch some movies instead. Then, I may pick up with The Hunger Games on e-book before I deal with the other two Larsson books. And I've also got historical reading to do. We'll see.

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Dangit, now I have to give these books another shot. I was going to skip ahead to Hunger Games on my to-read list (I keep hearing everyone rave about them), but I had a true crime phase in high school that I've never quite shaken off. Ann Rule was all over my bookshelf.

OMGs, crimelibrary.com is almost like TV Tropes for me....

I had thought Lisbeth would be more the kind of person to sexually ignore Blomqvist, and he would be surprised to get along with someone he didn't actually ever sleep with

It's actually a bit like that in the movie- she moseys into his room one night, rides him like a pony, and sleeps there for the rest of the night, because why not? And then he tries cuddling up to her the next morning, and she gives him a look like ". . . what are you on, dude?" Movie!Lisbeth is a lot more emotionally distant.

(I think the guardian scene is a lot more traumatizing in the movie version, because- well remember when you reviewed Avatar and said that Zoe Saldana wasn't afraid to make less-than-pretty sounds when it made sense for her character? Noomi Rapace is the same way, and it drives the "OH MY GOD OH MY GOD" factor up even higher than it already would be.)

Yeah, and that scene in the book was fairly restrained--he ties her down, she feels something, cut to black. It's not even until a scene or two later when we're told in retrospect that she "only" cried tears of physical pain; even that is dissociated from the event itself. Whereas in a movie you're going to be seeing it, hearing it, much more vividly.

See, I read both the book and saw the Swedish movie (which is why I also picture Noomi as Lisbeth), and the movie has the sex stuff dialed back a bit. I heard that the publisher wanted more sexuality in it, so that's why he added more of the sex stuff than what was originally in it.

Although I am interested in seeing how the English version turns out.

Seriously, I kept waiting for Lisbeth to, like, set him on fire or something

I can seriously see her doing this...

You know, the interesting thing is that the back cover is like SEXY ADDICTIVE THRILLER!, and then I get there, and it's like, Blomqvist maybe gets to second base, fade to black. There aren't any actual love/sex scenes per se (I'm not going to count rape and violence as part of that). We're told he gets laid, but I don't actually consider that "sexy," any more that I would consider good action writing to be "And then stuff blew up."

I am torn on whether or not to read these books. My roommate watched the original movie and told me I couldn't watch it under any circumstances (she knows my triggers and explained the scenes in there to me- I'm not going near that film with a twelve foot pole) I wonder though if the books are as bad.

Also Cleo, I enjoy the theorizing on what a book is ~really~ about. You always have really insightful things to say.

I think the movie really probably would be pretty awful in that regard. The two triggery Lisbeth scenes are pretty easily skipped, if you recognize them quickly enough. Really, not very much is described--you're told that someone did this/that/the other, but it's never really dwelt on. I mean, even the sex scenes are like, she took off her shirt, fade to black.

Having seen the movie and read the book in the same week, I cannot for the life of me separate Rapace from Lisbeth, whom I love so much I hunted down the second book in English immediately after finishing the first even tough I was in Spain. The books were cheaper in English, but the titles are much weirder in Spanish - besides Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres, there is La chica que soñaba con una cerilla y un bidón de gasolina and La reina en el palacio de las corrientes de aire.
Sorry for the tangent, but since you majored in Spanish, maybe you'll find it interesting!

Yeah, that first title is pretty standard for the first book in the various languages. I find it interesting that it's translated as "Men who don't love women," as opposed to "Men who hate women." But that's what I've seen in French as well.

The Girl Who Dreamed of a Match and a Can of Gasoline? I wonder if that's a common phrase like "played with fire," or they were just stuck with no equivalent and had to translate it literally.

I'm not even sure what to make of the third one--The Queen in the Palace of the Currents of Air? We've got the expression "castles in the air," I don't know if it's the same, or its own idiom, or... I just don't know how that connects to "Kicked the Hornets' Nest."

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Book hangover? I have to use that now.

hope your friend gets better soon, I've been reading about her

I really liked the movies, so it's interesting to read this take on the books (haven't read them)

yes yes, please read The Hunger Games next! They're so addictive.

Glad you enjoyed it. I'd heard enough questionable things about it to not be sure, though I didn't know much about the actual plot. I'd heard there were rapes. But as horrible as they were, they didn't put me off the book. Possibly because Lisbeth, while she was a victim, WASN'T a victim in another real sense. At least, she took control and was so strong and awesome.

Also, though there's a great deal of violence against women, apparently the author was very much against violence towards women. And he actually sounds like an interesting and principled guy. Sad that he died so young.

In a way, this is totally a Gary Stu, which is kind of funny.

And Daniel Craig is *perfect*. I read it before they cast him, but he fits the role very well. Older, but still clearly attractive enough to catch so many women. I have comments on the effect of his womanizing, but they might be spoilers so I won't say now.

I really enjoyed the whole series. And I can't wait to see what you think of the Hunger Games. You are not prepared! ;-)

Well, I probably am prepared, in that I got spoiled for the ending of the third book.

I'm sorry, I know I keep blathering on about what books are ~really~ about. I'll try to cut down on that.

Don't you dare, that's why we're here.

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The part in the movie where Henrik finds out what happened JUST KILLS ME. Sven-Bertil Taube's face changes from bemused curiosity to shock to hope to overwhelming relief so subtly and it breaks my black heart. (It's at 6:42 in this clip.) That's (one of the reasons) why I could really relate to Lisbeth's anger about it. He loved Harriet, dammit!

Also, another part that I thought translated well to the movie was the story of the what the Vangers did in the war. There's a montage of photos and sound effects (around 12:30 here) that works nicely. And it kind of made me laugh because you know your family's fucked up when that kind of thing is among the least objectionable shit they've done.

I'm sorry, I know I keep blathering on about what books are ~really~ about. I'll try to cut down on that.




In other news, this - I got a little uncomfortable the way Lisbeth was constantly described as "childlike" and "small" and "the perfect victim" makes me deeply unhappy and is a big part of why I probably won't be reading these books.

I think if you're going to do a "surprise empowerment" thing, you've either got to be a mad tasteful author or to take the easy way out and do it with a visual medium. So for instance Buffy works for me (not unproblematic, but), because no one has to go on about how tiny and adorable and blonde Buffy is. Those are just physical facts. Whereas when people do it with the written word, well, it's tough, and they usually don't do it well. So it just comes across as skeezy and unsavory and... well, titillating. Like, horrible things are happening to this person, but incidentally, these horrible things do make rather a pretty picture in their awfulness. She's built to suffer, sorta. And then even the big ~revenge scenes don't work for me, because I feel like we were supposed to be in on the abuse in the first place. So we get to enjoy the abuse and the punishment for it, styla fing. Just... makes me feel nasty reading it.

Hm. That could be the case. A lot of times it's just written to be that people physically underestimate Lisbeth because they don't realize someone that small and thin can be such a hellion. (Although the aggressively punk outfits might should tip them off.) But "the perfect victim"--in the context of her boss worrying about her, so it could be a misperception on his part--did make me a little uncomfortable.

"so many of them are about someone outside in law enforcement who gets brought in to solve what the police can't."

^ The entire premise of Castle.

And I agree, I didn't get the supposedly sexy aspect of it at all. Blomqvist didn't seem James Bond to me at all. He's just a dude. I have no idea how Swedish culture/morality view promiscuity, so it could just be a culture clash thing. Maybe the open sexuality is more shocking there? Hard to believe, given American (general) prudishness.

The entire premise of Castle.

Beat me to it, you did.

If it wasn't so darned clever and fun to watch, the premise would drive me batty the way, let's say, Mentalist did while I was trying to watch it. I suspect it helps that unlike that other show, Castle lets characters other than The Clever Outsider be smart & capable.

And, on topic... no way I'm reading this book, methinks. Oy.

I LOVED the Millennium Trilogy and Noomi Rapace is made of awesome and cupcakes. I wish she had a shot at an Oscar nomination this year, but alas.

I hope you'll go on to read the other two books. The second one is more exciting and the third one is catharsis for Lisbeth fans. If I didn't have a giant list of books to read and a goal to reread the entire Harry Potter series before July, I would read the trilogy again.

Oh man, I totally forgot about the URL in the middle of the text. It caught me off guard and had me going "O RLY" at it, but then I kept on reading and it slipped my mind. I wonder why the editor kept that in there.