Buffalo News.com News Editor Margaret Sullivan commented recently on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson, Rooney Mara, and our book in her blog post, SulliView:
The Girl Who Topped the Bestseller Lists — or why we love that tattooed girl
March 6, 2012
The late, great Christopher Hitchens, in his admiring 2009 Vanity Fair piece about Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, wrote that a bestselling book is like a tsunami.
“It’s partly a wall and partly a tide: first you see a towering, glistening rampart of books in Costco and the nation’s airports, and then you are hit by a series of succeeding waves that deposit individual copies in the hands of people sitting right next to you.”
The person sitting right next to me, most days, is my assistant Bobbie Rein, and right next to her last week was a hardcover copy of Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played with Fire.”
So I mentioned to Bobbie that I had finally seen David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” over the weekend. (My mini-review: I loved Rooney Mara’s goth-punk intensity; I don’t enjoy thinking about libel suits; I could have done without the rape and revenge scenes; three stars.)
Given that opening, Bobbie, a biker chick at heart, let loose with her feelings about hacker-protagonist Lisbeth Salander:
“She’s my hero! She weighs 90 pounds, she can beat the crap out of any guy and she rides a motorcycle at night in the snow!”
A lot of people seem to feel that way — or have some other reason for snapping up these books like so many dark-chocolate Raisinets in a movie-size box.
Remarkably, in its first week of release as a paperback, this coming Sunday, the third book in Larsson’s posthumously published Millennium series (“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”) simultaneously will be No. 1 on the New York Times mass-market paperback and trade paperback lists.
Just this past Sunday, that novel was still 11th on the hardcover fiction list after 80 weeks, and eighth on the e-book list after 40 weeks. The first of the trilogy was published in September, 2008 and is still fourth on the trade paperback list after 140 weeks. Vintage Books claims 20 million readers of the trilogy in the United States alone.
Yep, we love that girl. She’s Harry Potter for grown-ups. But why, exactly? An anthology published last year by St. Martin’s Griffin, “The Tattooed Girl,” offers plenty of ideas. My favorite was a quote from Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010:
“With all my defenses as a reader and critic leveled by the hurricane force of his story, I just spent a few weeks reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. It left me with the happiness and excitement of febrile children and adolescents who read the series on the Musketeers by Dumas or the novels of Dickens and Victor Hugo, wondering at every turn of the page, ‘What now, what will happen?’ and the foreboding anguish of knowing that the story was about to end soon.”
Hurricanes, tsunamis — the tattooed girl is a force of nature. Or, as Bobbie put it: “She’s my hero!”