Charles Wright, America’s New Poet Laureate, has been reading “the Scandinavians”

The newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, Charles Wright, has said
in interviews that since retiring from his professorship at the University
of Virginia, he has more time to indulge his interest in reading things he
had tried to keep out of his mind while focusing on his poetry. According to
the New York Times, Wright “plans to keep gobbling up fiction, which he said
he had mostly denied himself before his retirement in 2010, to keep his mind
clear for poetry. Crime fiction is a particular obsession.”

And what does he like in crime fiction? The recent Scandinavian noir
writers, which no doubt includes the late Stieg Larsson. “I’ve read all the
current stuff, from Elmore Leonard to the Scandinavians,” he said. “I’ve
picked up every narrative I could get my hands on, to make up for 50 years
of nonnarrative.”

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Julie O’Connor’s photographs of Stockholm now on exhibit

The photographer Julie O’Connor, whose “Tattooed Girl Tour” slideshow of images of Stockholm is accessible to the right, was recently in The Weston Forum:1_bellmansgatan1 panorama SMALL

Westonite Julie O’Connor is one of a small group of photographers whose work has been selected for the Images 2014 show, sponsored by the Fairfield Museum and History Center. The show’s gala opening is Saturday, May 10.

Ms. O’Connor’s photo, entitled “Bellmansgatan 1,” is a panoramic architectural image of a street scene in Stockholm, Sweden. The title refers to the apartment building at that address, where the fictional journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, was said to live in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and other books in the Millennium trilogy written by Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson.

More of Ms. O’Connor’s photographs of Stockholm, as well as her other work, including the images for her book Doors of Weston: 300 Years of Passageways in a Connecticut Town may be seen on her website, julieoconnor.com.

A three-person jury selected about 50 photographs for exhibition in the Images 2014 show, which will be on view at the Fairfield Museum from May 10 to June 22.

The Images 2014 gala is Saturday, May 10, from 7 to 11 p.m. For more information, call 203-259-1598.

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Lisbeth and Larsson Live On

Several new books and other cultural works call to mind the legacy of Stieg
Larsson as an author and the unforgettable power of his character, Lisbeth Salander.

  • A Darker Shade of Sweden, edited by our colleague John-Henri Holmberg (co-author of The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time), introduces English language readers to 20 Swedish crime writers. Published by Mysterious Press, the book includes stories never before published in English from Stieg Larsson as well as his partner of three decades, Eva Gabrielsson.
  • In her current bestseller, The Goldfinch, author Donna Tartt gives an intriguing and slightly backhanded tribute to Larsson when one of the characters discusses his reaction to Dostoevsky’s classic, The Idiot. Boris, an important character in this gripping, neo-Dickensian tale, says that The Idiot so disturbed him he never wanted to read fiction again. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the only novel he mentions by name that he has read since his last experience with Dostoevsky.
  • Jimmy Carter’s just published book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, takes up many of the themes Stieg Larsson wrote about in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy – the many ways women are abused and oppressed in the modern world, even in the most advanced and progressive-minded countries. Introducing the book, the publisher (Simon & Schuster) notes: “The world’s discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights: This is President Jimmy Carter’s call to action. President Carter was encouraged to write this book by a wide coalition of leaders of all faiths. His urgent report covers a system of discrimination that extends to every nation. Women are deprived of equal opportunity in wealthier nations and “owned” by men in others, forced to suffer servitude, child marriage, and genital cutting. The most vulnerable, along with their children, are trapped in war and violence.”
  • Larsson fans continue to wonder – and worry – about the forthcoming “fourth” novel in the Larsson series. Stieg Larsson himself died shortly after completing his trilogy and before the first publication of the books. As we discussed in our last post, Larsson’s Swedish publisher, Norstedts, has commissioned a Swedish writer, David Lagercrantz, to write an officially sanctioned fourth novel that is reportedly to be Lagercrantz’s own invention, rather than a completion if the mysterious “fourth” Larsson novel that was much discussed after his death. According to media reports: “Lagercrantz himself commented endearingly to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: “Help, what can you say, I hope this will work out. It is amazing and I have already started writing, but it is a huge responsibility.” But he also stressed that his contribution would not build on or adapt the 200 pages or so of a fourth volume that Larsson had begun writing before his death: “This is not that, this is something new. I am creating my own intrigue, but he has left strings of ideas for me to follow. I will carry on his legacy, I will keep his characters, but I also have to give something of my own. The characters will continue but also evolve.” And while Lagercrantz will take on the characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, the new book will be “a standalone part of the Millennium series.”
  • The spirit of Lisbeth Salander continues to show up in literature and culture in many ways. Our guest blogger Jill Yesko, for example, has just published a novella, Murder in the Dog Park, whose protagonist is inspired by Lisbeth and Yesko’s deep interest in the Larsson series.
  • Meanwhile, if you are looking to Nordic culture for a European update to The West Wing or for a more optimistic and more female point of view on politics than House of Cards, you should check out Borgen, a Danish television series dealing with the life and times of a fictional first female prime minister of Denmark. (The actual first female prime minister of Denmark was elected shortly after the TV series began airing.) We think Stieg Larsson would have liked this.

 

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Keeping the “Real” Stieg Larsson Alive

Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s lifetime companion, made headlines around the world in February by giving Sweden’s leading newspaper access to fifteen boxes of Larsson’s research into the 1986 assassination of its then-prime minister Olof Palme, a murder that has never been solved.

Palme had been a hero to many Swedes, including Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson. But Palme’s populist, left-wing, anti-colonial, and anti-apartheid views also made him many enemies, particularly among right-wing extremists. Given that long before he created Lisbeth Salander, long before there was Expo, and even long before Olof Palme was shot, Larsson was already exposing neo-Nazis and other nationalist groups, it was natural for him to look into possible links between those movements and the Palme assassination.

Months of investigation in 1986 convinced Stieg that there was indeed such a link. Stieg shared his findings with the police and also testified to the official Palme Commission in 1987. He even named the man he thought responsible: Bertil Wedin, a celebrity among nationalist extremists, and reportedly a former mercenary, a former Swedish Secret Service agent, and at one point an agent for the South Africa apartheid regime. (Wedin, who is still alive, was questioned about the murder then and again in recent weeks, and denies any involvement in Palme’s death.) Continue reading

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Fiction crosses over into real life with “Salander” hacker in Spanish enclave Melilla

According to reports in Spain’s leading newspaper, El País, there is a real-life hacker calling herself “Salander” after Stieg Larsson’s fictional Lisbeth Salander made famous by the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. The new Salander apparently operates from Melilla, the small Spanish enclave in Morocco. She has been gaining access to Spanish government files and publishing them online.

EuroWeekly reported:

“Spanish daily newspaper El País reported on Sunday that for the past two years the shadowy internet personality has been hacking her way into state institutions, then publishing them on the web to highlight corruption and wrong-doing. The Facebook page where she published most of the documents has been closed down and the “Spanish Salander” remains unidentified.In an interview with El País, she claimed she started her online campaign because she was “sick of people being scared to have opinions or rebelling”. She claimed that the political classes of Melilla had “exploited the geographical barrier of the Mediterranean to create an alternative, parallel reality”. One of her most notable achievements is providing inside information concerning the abuse of patients in a state-funded mental institution. This information led to an employee being fired for hitting a patient.According to El País, “Salander the second” has now gained cult status in Melilla. The paper says she was a popular choice for chirigotas – folk songs composed especially for a town’s carnival and adapted to political or social issues.

Salander may also be a particularly interesting fictional character to people in Melilla since Larsson set a number of memorable scenes for Salander’s super-heroine talents in Gibraltar, the best known enclave in the region, located between Spain and Morocco.

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The book title with 91 imitators

Since Steig Larsson’s trilogy–The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest–became a publishing phenomenon in 2009, the title themes have been adopted by a whopping 91 other books. A rather surprising 23 percent of them were used on children’s books, and even though sales of the trilogy have been tapering off, far more of them were published last year (36) than in 2012 (19).

The list was originally compiled by New York Magazine for its February 3, 2014 issue and can be found here, on vulture.com.

Although we can’t vouch for the quality or content of the books, here are a few of our favorite knock-offs: Continue reading

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It looks like the there will be a new “Stieg Larsson” novel after all

But would Larsson himself have approved?

Earlier this week the global publishing industry was astir with the news that there is a new “Stieg Larsson” novel in the works. We put “Stieg Larsson” in quotation marks, because this new work is not the much-discussed “fourth” or “fifth” novel by the deceased author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo we are discussing here. Rather, it is a novel written by author David Lagercrantz for the Swedish publisher Norstedts, which together with Larsson’s father and brother controls the exploitation of the literary rights associated the Tattooed Girl trilogy. Like deceased thriller writers from Robert Ludlum to Robert Parker to Ian Fleming, a new series of novels written under license will bring Larsson’s characters, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, back to life. Continue reading

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