Wednesday, June 13, 2012
There are Things I want You to Know about Stiegg Larsson and Me
Write a will now! This is the takeaway message I got from reading Eva Gabrielsson's memoir of her thirty year relationship with Stiegg Larsson. Larsson, the author of the hugely successful Millennium series, died before his books were published and, hence, never lived to enjoy the literary and financial success his books have garnered. Sadly, he also died intestate (the legal term for without a will) which resulted in Larsson's father and brother being named as heirs to his estate and leaving his life partner Gabrielsson with nothing.
What I Want You to Know about Stiegg Larsson and Me, is not just a cautionary tale of greedy relatives, but also sheds light on Larsson's personal life and insight into the Millennium novels. In real life, Larsson was a voracious reader and autodidact. He believed passionately in social justice and was an ardent feminist. His political views led to him becoming a leading expert on extreme rightwing Nazi groups in Sweden and founding a progressive magazine. Larsson's career choice, however, subjected him to numerous death threats and is the reason why he and Gabrielsson never married (Swedish law required that married couples publically register their address).
As for inspiration behind the Millennium novels, Gabrielsson claims that the character Lisabeth Salander was conceived as modern day Pippi Longstocking. She also states that the main shared trait between Larsson and Mikael Blomkvist was their copious coffee consumption. Gabrielsson further notes that the stories that Larrsson penned were all derived from real life events (based either on his personal experience or newspaper stories) and that he liked to use names from people he knew in real life (although this is not true with respect to the main characters) and real addresses.
The memoir takes a dark turn, however, when Gabrielsson dishes on the legal matters that happened after Larsson's death. She is clearly very bitter which is understandable. Still I did not enjoy reading about the curse that she put on her enemies (presumably Larsson'a father and brother). Gabrielsson does have one ace in the hole: Larsson's unfinished fourth novel and outline for the rest of the series (he planned 10 novels in total). Hopefully, someday, Gabrielsson and Larsson's legal heirs can come to an agreement that will treat Gabrielsson more equitably and lead to the novel's eventual publication.
What I Want You to Know about Stiegg Larsson and Me is an informative book that Stiegg Larsson fans will (mostly) enjoy!
Review based on a library copy.