Monday, January 16, 2012

There Are Things I Want You to Know About Stieg Larsson and Me

Being one of the millions of readers fervently hoping for a fourth installment of the Millennium series, naturally I took to this memoir for a few answers. Written by the widow of novelist Stieg Larsson—the man behind the notorious Girl With the Dragon TattooThere Are Things I Want You to Know about Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson is more than the inside story of one of biggest names in crime fiction; it’s a love story of epic proportions; a compelling, intimate portrait of two soul mates with a shared world vision and commitment to fighting for human rights.

The book chronicles Stieg and Eva’s respective childhoods, and how they rose from humble beginnings, met at a political rally in their late teens, and for the next thirty-two years, would be life partners and collaborators; a politically-charged, socially conscious couple and a force to be reckoned with. Stieg incorporated many aspects of his life into his novels, which Eva contributed to. They worked together on their political magazine, Expo, and when Stieg began receiving death threats from ultra-nationalist groups for his writings, the couple took measures to protect themselves, which included avoiding being seen together in public and abstaining from marriage and other such institutions that would legally bind them together.

Details of Stieg’s upbringing provide much enlightenment on the man behind the Millennium trilogy: how he was rejected as an infant by his parents and raised in by his country-dwelling grandparents; and how the traditional values of this older generation shaped his own worldviews. Following Stieg’s death, Gabrielsson would bear the brunt of the bad blood between him and his family, as his father and brother greedily bid to claim his estate and intellectual property and deprive his livelong companion of her share.

Gabrielsson writes with great candor as well as affection for the man she loved for most of her life. Throughout their fights and their estrangements, and despite Stieg’s workaholic tendencies, their bond always endured. She reveals their mutual love of science fiction, their passion for sailing, the locations they travelled together that are featured in his novels, and the dialogue between them that Stieg used for his characters. Through use of examples, Gabrielsson leaves no doubt that she was a significant contributor as well as supporter of Stieg’s literary ambitions.

Fans of the Millennium trilogy will find more than what they’re looking for with this book. More than just a tell-all or an exposé, There Are Things I Want You to Know is a deeply moving homage to a dedicated journalist, activist and remarkable storyteller. With so many falsities being published these days by those wanting to capitalize on his success, Gabrielsson’s account has an authentic and heartfelt quality, and is the one fans should be picking up.

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