I’m not sure what to make of this interesting “long read,” an excerpt from a book titled Dead Girls by Alice Bolin. This essay is a mix of critical examination of the Martin Beck series and the Millennium Trilogy and memoir. I believe I have an allergy to the memoir genre, since it always makes me uncomfortable to read an author’s intimate take on their living family members, even if they’re okay with it – I feel trapped in a place where I’m overhearing a conversation I shouldn’t among people who are not fully clothed, but if I come out of my hiding place, “excuse me, sorry,” they’ll all stare after me and know that I know and I’ll feel terrible. Though in fact, it’s a public performance. They give me a sly wink, asking me to stay. Oh dear. It’s probably why I also can’t stand most true crime – voyeurism when I’d rather feel safely involved in fiction, where I can be comfortable with the characters; they draw me in, but they aren’t implicating me in their lives in the same way. Maybe it’s just that I’m a very private person. Maybe it’s just that it feels manipulative.
That said, this question of why there are so many dead girls in crime fiction really interests me, and her questioning of the ways dead women are treated in Roseanna and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is uncomfortably thoughtful, so it’s a book I want to read and argue with and learn from. I just wish it didn’t come in a memoir sandwich, but that’s my own problem. Here’s a quote from the essay/excerpt:
Many people have noted the marketing brilliance of changing the title of Larsson’s Men Who Hate Women for the English translation, shifting the focus from creepy men to always more salable “girls.” Men Who Hate Women could be another alternate title for my book, and I have chosen, maybe hypocritically, to sell it on girls instead. In the end, the careers of Larsson and Sjöwall and Wahlöö turn out to be Dead Man stories, where men leave their wives and collaborators to deal with their absence for decades. This female survival is probably the truer story and, I think Larsson, Sjöwall, and Wahlöö would agree, a better one, but it doesn’t have the same addictive glamour that comes with a Dead Girl. In Roseanna, one of Beck’s colleagues mentions a movie that the suspect they’re trailing goes to see. “It has a wonderful ending,” he says. “Everyone dies except the girl.”