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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hooked on Larsson's Books

I've gotten hooked on a series of books called the Millennium Trilogy. They are written by a Swedish author named Stieg Larsson. He died before the Trilogy was published so unfortunately has not been alive to experience the phenomenon they've become world wide. They have been made into movies now, with the first installment having been released in February of this year. Of course, they are written in Swedish but have been translated into many other languages. It seems if you pick up the first, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you are hooked. I just finished the second, The Girl Who Played with Fire and am eagerly awaiting the third, The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet's Nest, to be released in English. I should read the third one in Swedish but that would be a bit too much work for a fun fiction read!
The first novel prompted an earlier blog I wrote about violence. (http://jodimullenfondell.blogspot.com/2008/04/violence.html)
The first novel seeks to get us hooked on the characters and also dealt with issues related to misogyny. The second one took us even deeper into the complex lives of the characters and planted the female sex trafficking business in the center of the story. It ended with a huge cliff hanger and thus the eagerness for the third to be released!
For me, the most fascinating aspects of these novels is two-fold. First, they deal with issues that are rarely if ever discussed in Swedish society. They are dark and violent and it has caused me to wonder about the topics in Swedish society that perhaps get shoved beneath the rug. All societies have their dark spots. Larsson is working hard to reveal some problems that may exist in his own culture. Secondly, the books are set in Stockholm. Our street was even mentioned in the second book. OK...so it was mentioned as the location of a sex shop, but still...seeing our street name in the book and knowing exactly where in town the characters were at that moment was pretty cool. (Incidentally, when we first moved here, a sexy lingerie shop was located next to our house and rumor had it that if you went inside, the back room displayed a rather lurid choice of sex toys! Maybe the author's research was more extensive than I had imagined!) Most of the action however, takes place in the southern part of the city known as Söder. It is an area of the city that I enjoy but rarely venture into. My experience yesterday might change that.
I still enjoy it, but now I feel motivated to get over there more often. I took part in a walking Millennium Tour which showed us the places and buildings that were described in the book. It was great fun to see where the characters lived, worked, shopped and ran around. The photos above show where we started the tour and where the main character, Mikael Blomkvist lived. The shots below show a spot close to where Lisbeth Sallander lived and the views of Stockholm they enjoyed as they ran around trying to solve their crimes and avoid being killed!
So not only did I get to learn more about the gorgeous and enchanting city in which I live, but I got to flesh out the pictures in my mind that I had created while reading the novels.
I recommend the books for anyone interested in a fast-paced, who dunnit type of read. Even if you've never been to Stockholm, perhaps you can get a little glimpse of life here in this wonderful city. Be warned...some of the events in the novel include rape and torture and reveal a shadowy sense of depraved humanity. Even so, the characters are fascinating and I'm certain you'll be drawn as deeply into their lives as I have been. And when you come visit, we'll go have coffee in Mikael Blomkvist's neighborhood!