Saturday, 25 September 2010

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO by Stieg Larsson


Yes, this is the piece of crap I bought for 12 euros and read in 2 days because I was so desparate for some fiction. The protagonist is a journalist (as the author was) who reads a lot of murder mysteries (as I suspect the author of this murder mystery did) and has lots of beautiful women who want to have sex with him all the time (think not, if his picture on the backflap is anything to go by). I don't know if you really need to know the plot, as I suspect you already know it, due to it being the plot of all these books. I'll give you the highlights: loose cannon investigator blah blah serial killer blah blah it gets personal blah blah killer is one you least suspect. So it was pretty blah, BUT immensely page-turning. No denying it. I also enjoyed the way it was so thoroughly set in Sweden, so they were constantly eating foul fish dishes and putting on thick jumpers.

One thing that made me REALLY MAD was the inclusion of an entirely unecessary and very sadistic rape scene. I've had this before with other books, where you are reading along quite comfortably, and all of a sudden you are like: ah. I see this book was written by a man. And a certain kind of man, too. I don't mean he is a sadistic rapist, but rather that he is clearly someone who comfortably participates in that strand of our culture that eroticises female pain. I'm not saying these sorts of scenes are never acceptable: of course they are, if they are central to the plot or important to the book's theme. But it's incredible how often they are just sort of chucked in there. And I think the reason they are is that they give the writer, and some of the readers, a distinct thrill. Nice. Really nice.

A brilliant example of this is some stupid book I read, the title of which I can't remember. It's set in post Civil War America, which I am sure was a dark time for many people – eg, recently empancipated black people, traumatised white soldiers, etc etc. You'd never know it from this book, which is pretty much one long rape scene, written with precisely detailed excitement. What's incredible, is that this piece of nonsense won the Pulitzer. Honestly, these people ought to phone their moms to apologize.

5 comments:

  1. I really hated that scene too. And quite a crappy book overall, although with extreme page-turning powers which looking back on it now, simply amazes me. I can't believe I wasted my life reading this book! It was strange too how every chapter had that whole 'violence against women, men hate women' statement preceding it. I suppose he was trying to show that he was actually a feminist and therefore excuse the rape scene as pure titallation? All in all, its quite tawdry and strangely has been made into a film (twice now) which surprises me as I have no desire to see any of this on film. I think it will really up the gross level in all the grotty bits. ugh!

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  2. Oh my god! I am glad you hated it too. I was worried I was becoming extremist in my old age. Also, I had totally forgotten the bizarre and irrelevant gender quotations. That was odd. Maybe he was trying to pretend the book was rather more literature than it actually was?

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  3. I was going to read “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” but I think I’ll stay clear now. I’m a complete sucker for page turners (big Stephen King fan) I managed to read the complete Twilight series before realising that they are very poor books with very weak female characters. I think these writers are very skilled at what they do – they are sales people able to get us to turn the page via a shallow promise… “Turn the page and we’ll reveal an interesting plot twist” you turn the page and lo and behold it says “Turn the page and this time we really will reveal an interesting plot twist” and so on until you reach the end of the book feeling cheated and brain dead.

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  4. Dude, totally. That is so true. It is weird how you think you are enjoying it while you are in it, but afterwards, you think: what did I just do with my life? But it is a really strong version of the genre, for sure. I see that it is on course to overtake the DA VINCI CODE in UK sales. Yikes.

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  5. Oh god, I have remembered the name of the book I hated so much: REDEMPTION FALLS by Joseph O'Connor. Avoid it like the PLAGUE.

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