Friday, November 14, 2008

HEIGHTENED ANTICIPATION: THE STIEG LARSSON PHENOMENON



I have decided to postpone the Quirky Quiz for a few days as I want to post about the Stieg Larsson phenomenon and the varying opinions about the books. 
I have posted at some length here, here, here, and here about this previously but wanted to update readers to the feedback I have received and the discussions about the casting of the movie.

For a media advertising campaign that has successfully blitzed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to number one on Amazon UK's literature in translation list, admittedly at the greatly discounted price of £3.86, the choice of book covers and the actors to play Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist seem strange. 

On Stieg Larsson's web site the comments about the movie casting are similar to my own views. Noomi Noren is certainly not the Lisbeth of the book and as one person states she looks more like Erika than Lisbeth. Noomi is not a  23 year old who could be mistaken for 14, too tall, too old, too attractive! 
Michael Nikvist has an easier task because the character of Blomkvist is so bland but some have said he also is too old. The trailer on this website hardly adds to one's knowledge about the movie.

'Out of respect for Stieg Larsson the casting people might have read the books more carefully.' Francoise 12 November

But my basic worry is that this book will be read by people who have not read any other Scandinavian crime fiction and will dismiss it as turgid, slow and like wading through deep snow drift. They will then not read the other Nordic authors who deserve attention.

The brilliantly funny Irish author Declan Burke found the first book pedestrian stuff and suggested the publishers 'yank out the first 160 pages, or pulp the first book and just gives us the best stuff.'
Declan stopped reading after 112 pages, after all life is indeed too short to read a 500 page introduction.  

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is indeed a 'marmite' of a book you either love it or hate it as witnessed by this review and comment from the Charleston City Paper.

'This is easily one of the worst books I have ever read.'

Reg Keeland is the distinguished translator of the Larsson trilogy, as well as books by Henning Mankell, Karin Alvetegen, Helene Tursten and Camilla Lackberg.
He commented that 

'be assured book one only lays the groundwork for great stuff to come in books two and three.'

And added 

'Larsson took the genre beyond Sjowall and Wahloo, beyond Mankell, into a whole new area of thriller literature.'

I  await The Girl Who Played With Fire with  heightened anticipation and I do hope I will not be disappointed.

'The hype is something else' 

11 Comments:

Blogger Philip said...

I read the book after the foofaraw both pro and con, so I really had no idea what I might be in for. In the event, I came down somewhere in the middle. A for effort. C+/B- in the execution. I did think I detected the possibility of much better things from Larsson, bearing in mind this was his first novel, so I noted with interest what Reg Keeland had to say, his word carrying weight with me. With regard to length, this had much to do with something his editor should have put the kibosh on from the start -- two stories in one, the Vanger and the Wennerstrom, the second subordinate to the first, the two only tenuously connected, and with the result that after the main story concludes, we find the book does not, because the tale of the Wennerstrom Group needs some sort of denouement. Extraordinarily anticlimactic, an elementary sort of error, and Larsson was ill-served there. I did like the Salander character, so I shall, encouraged by Mr. Keeland, be rather looking forward to the other two. I'll just add that I think the fuss over this comes more from the ridiculous hype -- not exactly uncommon -- than from the book being uncommonly bad, which it really is not. At about the same time I read it, I also read Camilla Lackberg's The Ice Princess, and God forbid THAT should be anyone's introduction to Scandinavian crime fiction.

6:33 AM  
OpenID maxine said...

Sjowell/Wahloo would be the best intro, I think. But many get into the region via Henning Mankell, who is pretty good. Helene Tursten, Asa Larsson and Liza Marklund are all authors that showcase Sweden superbly - ditto the fantastic debut of Johan Theorin.

I enjoyed "Dragon" but then I like books that have a slow burn aspect to them, and I also am very fond of books with a journalist-legal policito-financial corruption theme ;-)

As for the movie - what about Viggo Mortensen? He is part-Danish at least!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Mack said...

I'm listening to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm about 4 hrs into it and not ready to give up yet. I not sure how many pages 4 hours equals but I probably made it past Declan's limit. It is a bit slow but I'm enjoying the set up of the characters. Looks like there will be some good dysfunctional family interaction ahead.

I don't have a problem with the appearance of Michael Nikvist as Blomkvist. I thought of him as looking older anyway.

But Noomi Noren as Lisbeth, no way. If she can capture Lisbeth's mannerisms and attitude I'll probably forgive the casting... mostly

9:01 AM  
Blogger Ali Karim said...

I just sit and wait for the reaction to Vol II, which for my money is one of the greatest novels of crime fiction I've ever read

Ali

9:27 AM  
Anonymous marco said...

I have yet to read them -the hype disturbs me-but a friend of mine has said he liked the First more than the Second.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Ali.
I wait to have my socks blown off by Vol.II and eat my portion of humble pie. ;0)
But you did raise the bar on Dragon Tattoo very high and some readers were disappointed.
I really enjoy these debates and we do agree about Indridason and Theorin.

Marco that is a bit worrying because Vol II is supposed to be the 'good stuff'!

3:16 AM  
OpenID maxine said...

Ah, well, I stuck to Swedish in my response. If we are shifting geography to include Iceland...;-)
(Norway - Fossum and your pal Nesbo...N being another "tome" author, but a good one, if a bit in favour of convoluted endings.)

4:14 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine I must read Asa Larsson if you think she is the same class as Marklund and Tursten, or better?

I also like the slow burn novel but think the journalist in Stieg Larsson got the better of the novelist and the start and finish did not match the middle section.
I agree Viggo [History of Violence] Mortensen would have been much better in the part. I had imagined Lisbeth as a blonde Christina Ricci much younger than Nori Noren and looking far more vulnerable.

I did a long post on 4 Mystery addicts but it seems to have been censored/ swallowed/ removed by the powers that be. ;0) Wot larx!

5:34 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

My 4 Mystery Addicts post has appeared that should make me very popular. I might have to attend Crime Fest in disguise.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Reg said...

Now I'm afraid I may have heightened readers' expectations about books 2 & 3 and inadvertently joined the hype machine. Having read them at extremely slow speed (while translating and typing every word), I just have to say that I enjoyed the job immensely. The events in the books all run together in my mind as one big epic thriller spanning several genres, and I can't really tell you which volume any specific memorable scene is from, now 2 years after the fact. I think I liked book 2 the best, though.

And give Camilla Läckberg a chance. She gets better with each book (I just finished doing #3 today, and the ending made me say "Wow"). Since she sells as well as Stieg Larsson in Sweden, she has plenty of readers there -- and detractors, many of whom are male authors jealous of her success. I'm guessing her books have great appeal to young mothers -- plenty of domestic and baby lore mixed in with the mysteries. She's definitely a family-oriented mystery writer.

Now back to the middle ages.

P.S. Viggo rocks! And I'm thinking Juliette Lewis from the "Natural Born Killers" era for Lisbeth... too bad it was made in 1994.

"Reg"

1:09 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Reg, I did enjoy The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg and have The Preacher on order. You have already sold me number three with your Wow!
I read Ice Princess just after finishing Echoes From The Dead, which I thought was superb, so I rated IP below that book. I was more critical of the Val McDermid blurb which called the book 'heart stopping and heart warming'. In view of the novel's themes I did not see how it could be called 'heartwarming'.

Norm

1:38 AM  

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