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.

news and reviews

Peter of Scandinavian Books discusses the phenomenon of the Millennium Trilogy, saying the author had originally planned a ten-book series; he had got as far as drafting the fourth before his untimely death. Peter also links to a brief notice from the Norwegian newspaper Daglbladet saying the family had decided not to have the fourth book, of which about 200 pages had been drafted, finished by another writer. That sounds to me like a very good idea, since the author was not one to come close to completing a book in 200 pages.

Nekkidblogger reviews Mari Jungstedt’s Unspoken and says it’s a “great police procedural . . . crisp prose, steady suspense, and flesh-and-blood characters, as well as powerful descriptions of the dark Swedish winter. The narrative is engaging and twisty, and will fool even the most attentive reader.”

Maxine was deeply impressed by Karin Alvtegen’s The Shadow – “a brilliant and rich book, which has had a tremendous impact on me. I urge you to read it as soon as you can.”

Steph was less taken with it, finding the characters unlikeable and one aspect of the ending a bit of a cliche, but she thinks Jan Costin Wagner’s Ice Moon is great, and gives readers an informative illustrated geographical and historical tour of its Finnish setting. She also gives her review one of the most poetic titles in memory: “a strange and haunting story, cracked through with grief.”

Thanks to Mack, I now have a better grasp of the peculiar take on the world offered by Tim Davys in Amberville.

Let me say upfront that I enjoyed this book but it is also one of the oddest I’ve read in a while. It isn’t a book that you can read literally. Amberville refers to one of four districts in Mollisan Town which is populated by living stuffed animals that have the bodily functions you attribute to living creatures. There is no attempt to relate the world of Amberville with our world, it just is.

I first thought that Amberville was going to be a crime story that used stuffed animals in place of humans. While it has noir and criminal element it turned out to be something very different. . . .

Do not think that stuffed animals = children’s book. This is most definitely not a book for children. It is an allegory that uses the Death List to critically examine religious belief and faith and duplicity within organized religion. Related themes include morality, loyalty, and what it means to be family. Viewed as an allegory, the reader can relate Amberville to our world without stumbling over the cast of stuffed animal characters.

But I’m still left wondering . . . why stuffed animals? Maybe there’s a metaphysical answer in there, somewhere, but I doubt it has anything to do with the Velveteen Rabbit.