Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

So I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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 (, 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; 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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Tags: book discussion, books, the girl with the dragon tattoo, twitter

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