Friday, July 16, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

So I was driving to IKEA yesterday, finishing up the last disc of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and it wasn't until I had just about pulled into IKEA's parking lot that I got the irony of driving to a Swedish store while listening to a book by a Swedish author. It still amazes me how the simplest things escape me.

Here's a simple story. Charles recently told me about a co-worker's son. In response to his fiance's query as to why his carry-on bag contained no pants, he replied, "We're just staying a day. Why would I possibly need a second pair of pants?" He then proceeded to unwittingly sit down in the one seat on the airplane that had soda pooled in the cushion.

Here's another simple story: This just happened, on the very same trip to Ohio that included IKEA and Larsson, on an overnight visit to my mother-in-law's, and I can already tell this story will be one my husband will tell again and again, until the story takes its place in our family's mythology. Before we left, at the very last minute, thinking of the story of his coworker's son, Charles threw an extra pair of khaki shorts into his duffel. We drove off with Mischief in the van, as we were going to drop him off at the dog sitter's along the way. We we got out of the van at her house, though, Charles looked down at his khaki shorts and, to his horror, saw two spots of brown, each the size of pennies. According to the dog sitter, poor Mischief, who sat in Charles lap on the ride to her house, needed to have his anal glands emptied. (Just as an aside, does anybody ever tell prospective buyers about this disgusting issue when they are thinking of buying a cute little puppy? Honestly, it's no wonder the people who sell dogs never discuss it -- because NO ONE WOULD BUY A DOG IF THEY KNEW!) Anyway, I digress. Back to the shorts. Charles was tickled to have dodged this particular bullet and made a quick change in the van before we continued on to IKEA. Cut to later in the afternoon. At his mother's, we were all excited, gathered on the third floor of her over one-hundred-year old house, to explore one of the eaves, where Charles hoped to recover the toy fire engine of his childhood. As he put one foot into the hot, dark space behind the wall, his shorts caught on the edge of one of the door hinges and ripped. Really ripped. Not only did Charles need one pair of extra shorts, but two! Luckily, the dog-stained khakis were just about ready to come out of the dryer by the time he ripped the replacements.

If, like me, you need things simple, then heed this warning: Do not read Larsson. I don't think there is enough caffeine in the world to get my brain to kick in to a gear high enough to keep track of the intricate plot lines and business dealings in TGWTDT. Although Larsson held my interest at times, for the most part I found the story way too contrived and completely unbelievable. Do I sound too crass if I wonder if the author's recent death has created a hype that has elevated his work to mythic levels? I also wonder if the movie version of TGWTDT might be more satisfying, because I think a movie generally allows for more of a suspension of belief than a book.

Then again, maybe it's just me and my addled brain. Maybe the reason I've never been a huge fan of genres like murder mysteries or thrillers is that I just can't keep up with the facts. Who knows? But it's ironic that Larsson, from the land of IKEA, a store that specializes in furniture with clean, simple lines, has written a book that is not for the simple minded.

The New York Times Magazine recently published a fascinating article on Larsson's family and long time girlfriend, and the fight over his estate....

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