For those who have read them, I realize that the English version is a translation of the original piece, however, there are two things I've noticed about the writing. The first is that there is a lot of repetition. It surprises me how many times a point gets repeated in the stories.
And the second, there is a lot of mundane detail.
Both of these seems to be in opposition of what I've read in books that give advice on writing. I've read in several references that an author should not repeat details, and the second is that you don't have to describe everything you're doing from the time you get up from bed and walk out the door.
Now, despite these quirks, I enjoy the Larsson books, I'm just wondering if making these minor changes would have made a major difference in his success?
I'm in the middle of the first one and these long stretches of stacking matches (thanks Eddie Izzard for the analogy) nearly drives me to throw it across the room.
But I keep reading because the characters are admittedly compelling. Far more compelling than the plot.
My sense is that the novels might have had even more success in the US if they had cut all that crap out and gotten them down to around 450 pages instead. Moving readers through the story faster helps build tension. Every time he manages to create a little tension, it all drains away during those 5 pages Larsson spends walking his characters around. It's also the reason he must keep reminding us of what's been said and done so far. Those jaunts into nothingness are a distraction that gives the reader too much time to forget.
3. Not a single editor or published novelist I know likes the writing
So you're not alone. I struggled to read the first book, and only got into it about halfway through. It's chock full of "telling, not showing," and violates so many good-writing principles that I'm amazed it got published with such poor editing. I think its success is based on the author's personal story (dying and leaving his common law wife to duke it out with his family) and the single redeeming element of the series, Lisbeth.
I know quite a few really successful thriller writers who shake their heads in disbelief about the praise these books get.
6. If you haven't read it, then what you need to know is that
Lisbeth Salander is less than five feet tall and is often mistaken for a child because of her dimensions: boyish hips and flat chest to be blunt. She is now in her twenties and if she wants to show signs of maturation, I would consider that is a normal response to her delayed development.
For that matter, if feminists are known to be comfortable with their sexuality, (a point that I never read anywhere, but just assume) then Lisbeth fits the bill. Though one of her lesbian partners calls her confused sexually because she suspects that Lisbeth is more hetero than bi-sexual, Lisbeth, nevertheless, is not repressed sexually, and even less concerned about being judged about her choices. That's a very feminist quality.
And, of course, one must remember that this was all written by a male writer, though everything about her personality is in line with someone who is determined to be in control of her choices.
8. The second book will develop the character further,
no pun intended. In the first section of the second book, it drones on about what she did in the year she was in exile. And, I would say the writer justifies the boob job adequately. Goes into her head to explain her feelings of inadequacy, physically, which isn't too surprising considering the verbal abuse her father put her through.
I definitely can see how feminists would not like this story. She's a very damaged individual, written by a man's perspective. But I look for some redeeming social value, and that I did find in the way the journalist in the Millenium continued to research on the issue of abused women, and how the system that's suppose to help them, actually makes it worse. I can certainly believe that.
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