02 August 2011

There Are Things Eva Gabrielsson Wants You To Know About Stieg Larsson

1. Stieg Larsson was pretty much the perfect guy. Even his temper was just because he got so riled up about injustice! And he loved women, but not in the Mikael Blomkvist way. But he did drink all that coffee in the Mikael Blomkvist way. Now Gabrielsson, his long-time partner (in a romantic cohabitating we-were-always-about-to-get-married sense), can't bring herself to drink coffee any more because he isn't with her.
2. He used a lot of stuff from his life in his books! Like the small town he grew up in, the places he vacationed, even real names of people he admired and wanted to thank. (Are you allowed to use someone's name in a work of fiction without asking them first? I suppose not, but it would probably be most polite to check.)
3. He had all kinds of wonderful plans for their life together before he was felled by a very sudden heart attack, but that beats all those years when he and Gabrielsson were afraid someone was going to assassinate him for reporting on Swedish right-wing and white supremacist movements. Also, he was totally eating better in the months before his fatal heart attack. [I mean, why even point this out. It's kind of late to judge a dead man on his diet, and it seems as though cardiac problems at an early age ran in his family.]
4. Larsson never explicitly set out to write a thriller series, which makes it all the more confusing that he is also described as mapping out a 10-volume saga in literally the same paragraph. How does one go from apparently writing unrelated chunks of text to Thriller Author Beloved Of Millions? It's still a mystery!
5. The absence of legislation in Sweden covering long-term cohabitating couples who never marry is a disgrace. (Okay, that's not really about Larsson, but that is the main point of this book. Regardless of whether you think Gabrielsson is only after the intellectual property rights of her former partner, as she says, or if she is more financially motivated, what happened to her seems to be legal and also sucked.

I don't want to say this book is unnecessary, out of respect for the widow, who has been through enough. But I would read this book only if you are a completist or enjoy being asked by strangers about what you're reading. (Actually, that aspect of it was pretty fun. No one cares if you're reading 2666 on the subway.) The only detail revealed about Book 4 is the title, THE VENGEANCE OF GOD, and that apparently Lisbeth Salander gets hers back, which we already knew because she is badass like that.


Elizabeth said...

I guess I don't have terribly much sympathy for anyone who expects the legal protections of a state they could have secured, but chose not to. No doubt that Larsson's family are being jerks to Gabrielsson, but when making the decision of whether or not to get married, what you'd like to happen in the event that either you or your sweetie drops dead tomorrow is precisely the sort of thing you should consider.

Does that make me a bad person?

Ellen said...

Does judging her make you a bad person? Well, at least it puts you in numerous company.

I guess she can't really fault the state for advertising "Here are all the rights you don't have right now!" But it doesn't help her case to say, as she does in the book, that they had already bought rings and list the number of times they had almost gotten married -- because almost doesn't count.

There's also a bit about how Larsson was going to set up a corporation for the revenue from the books, with himself and Gabrielsson as equal beneficiaries, so they wouldn't have had to get married... only to find out after his death that he never got around to it. But that vignette was more like a cautionary tale than "Why won't someone protect me from my own mistakes?"

I also think even if they had been married there likely would have been legal battles, as there often are when a stupendous amount of money arrives out of nowhere. Does that make me cynical? Well, a little.