reviews and The Girl on film

A writer for the Hindustan Times describes a trip to Stockholm to make the stations of the Millennium Trilogy, on a tour of sites relevant to the books. (I wonder if the Swedish Embassy would swing a trip for me? Probably not.)

Maxine is all thumbs – thumbs up for Henning Mankell’s The Man From Beijing, that is.  She thinks it’s unusual, ambitious, and marvelous –

Not only is the plot well-constructed in terms of the small-scale crime and the much larger, global wrongdoing, but I found myself being challenged by the various perspectives of the complex socio-economic issues facing the world as its population, expectations and technology develop while its resources become ever-more depleted. Henning Mankell is wise enough to know there are no answers, but by putting forward several views, both international and historical, he raises many thoughtful questions.

I wasn’t impressed by Tim Davys’s Amberville – at least, not impressed in a good way. At Reviewing the Evidence, I concluded it managed to be “simultaneously run-of-the-mill, quirky, and heavy-handed.” Gee, I really disliked that book, didn’t I?

The Miami Herald has a good interview with Arden Oplev, the director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; apparently the sexual violence has provoked some controversy.

“Lisbeth has become an icon for women,” Oplev says. “She goes through this bad stuff. She’s abused . . . , but she never, ever becomes a victim. She fights back. She gets in your face.” . . .

“In the U.K. and the U.S. there’s been a stronger reaction about the rape scene than there has been in Europe,” Oplev says. “Certain critics, both male and female, seem to have gotten thrown off by the graphic violence against Lisbeth. They’ve not really understood the rape scene is made to make the audience uncomfortable. It’s of vital importance to me that it not be entertaining.

“In Larsson’s book, it’s a very important part of the story. The book is entertaining, but I wanted to keep the political edge of the subject of violence against women. I wanted Larsson’s vision to live on. I didn’t want it to become toothless. So I chose to make this scene really tough. But, interestingly enough, the scene does not show more than five seconds of the attack. It’s all preparation. . . . I wanted the audience to feel horrific. Rape is a horrific thing. I have a wife and two teenage daughters and a strong old mother who is 89 and was a feminist before the word was defined. She has OKed the film. I would hate if somebody thought I did that to exploit women.”

Peter is not looking forward to the Hollywood remake of the film. Neither am I, but I’m sure looking forward to the Swedish one.

cold comfort

Irresistible Targets takes aim at the latest Arnaldur Indridason novel in the Erlendur series and thinks Hypothermia scores a bull’s eye. Read the whole review; it’s a corker. But I can’t resist quoting some of it.

The book is billed ‘A Reykjavik Murder Mystery’, and there is enough old-style detection here to make this story almost cosy, the tale of a cleverly-worked out killing. But there is nothing cosy about the heart of the novel, which is about the real way people react to death, and to loss, and the way a shutting down, or closing off, a coldness toward the world, can have intense consequences. This is one reason Hypothermia, which also presents a clue in the murder mystery, may be a better title for a book called Hardskafi in Icelandic. This is a book about emotion, about love, about loss, and about closure. It doesn’t have a ‘happy’ ending, but it has the kind of ending that reflects exactly what it is saying about life and death. Indridason has been building to this point, carefully, with his previous books, yet you don’t need to have followed them to appreciate this one. But Hypothermia will take on added resonance if you have. It is a fine novel, the best yet in a very strong series, and as I said the best I’ve read thus far this year.

Definitely on my “read as soon as possible” list.

For the lucky souls who live in or near New York City, here’s a free event you’ll want to put in your calendar:
Where Fiction & Reality Collide: Norwegian Crime Fiction Panel

Monday, October 19, 2009
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Scandinavia House
58 Park Ave (@ 38th Street)

Despite the fact that the Global Peace Index ranked Norway as the third most peaceful country in the world and the homicide rates in Norway are among the lowest on the planet, more people are murdered every year in the pages of Norwegian crime novels than are murdered in Norway itself. A panel comprised of Norwegian crime authors Kjell Ola Dahl and Anne Holt, along with Norwegian Police Counselor, Odd Malme Berner and moderator Sarah Weinman, will discuss the rise of Norwegian crime fiction.
Supported by the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York.

Meanwhile, on the Girl Who front, Dorte and husband give us a sneak preview of the film version of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. I’m looking forward to the film, though the actress does not at all match my inner portrait of Lisbeth Salander. And as Dorte’s husband says, she does not appear to have Asperger’s. UPDATE: see the Bookwitch’s full review here.

This has come up before. I see from a quick “look inside” search of the first book that Bloomqvist speculates Lisbeth might have Asperger’s – because of her phenomenal memory and ability to see patterns (not that all Aspies have phenomenal skills). Of course, in the second book, many people assume Lisbeth is psychotic and illiterate – and are quite surprised to find out she’s none of the above. Somewhere in an online discussion Reg Keeland, the translator, expressed surprise at the Autism/Asperger’s assumption, but here I see someone comment at Bookwitch’s blog that Stieg Larsson confirmed she was an Aspie. And an interview with his editor also suggests Larsson had it in mind when creating the character.  So I’m not at all sure what to think. I’m not sure labels are really helpful.

If you want to read more about Asperger’s I recommend Asperger Square 8, an excellent and thought-provoking blog (including things about labels).

how great is it?

Uriah has kicked off an interesting discussion of the ballyhoo surrounding Steig Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. This “international sensation” is just reaching the US, and it will be interesting to see whether it will receive the popular attention it has in other countries.

For extremes, sample this suggestion that it deserves the Nobel Prize, and this hostile review that calls it “easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read.”

But quite a few people seem to love it; over 6 million copies have sold worldwide.