Friday, July 1, 2011
BOOK REVIEW: Stieg and Me
Author: Eileen Harrison & Carolyn Landon
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: July 2011
The poignant, personal story of their life together by Stieg Larsson's partner, Eva Gabrielsson.
There is only one person who can tell the real Stieg Larsson story, and that is his lifelong companion Eva Gabrielsson. This is her book.
The keys to the 'Stieg Larsson phenomenon' all lie with Stieg Larsson, the man, and no one knew him like Eva. Here she tells the story of their 30-year romance, of Stieg's life-long struggle to expose Sweden's Neo-Nazis, of his fight to keep the magazine he founded, Expo, alive and his difficult relationships with his immediate family. She talks of the genesis of the Millennium trilogy, the sources for characters and places in each book, the mystery of the fourth volume and the saga of Larsson's death and his legacy.
Poignant in its account of two soul mates and the life they shared, this is a story told with candour and dignity. It reflects a deep insight into a man everyone wants to know better, about whom so little is known.
Eva Gabrielsson, life-long partner of Stieg Larsson, is an architect and author of several books. She has been involved with Expo magazine since it was founded by Larsson.
Long-suffering investigative journalist decides to write a mystery novel (the proceeds of which he and his longtime partner plan to retire on), bangs out three lengthy volumes in two years, then, in 2004, not long after submitting the manuscripts, drops dead from too much coffee and fast food. He does not see the books become international bestsellers, nor is he around to see his partner shut out of his legacy when his father and brother claim his estate—including control over his work—for themselves.
That partner, Eva Gabrielsson, has spent the last several years fighting for the right to determine how novelist Stieg Larsson's name and work (runaway best-sellers The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) are used. But it's not just a desire for creative control that she wants now, as she makes clear in her new memoir, which just came out in France and Sweden. Gabrielsson also wants something that Larsson's heroine, Lisbeth Salander, pursues throughout Larsson's Millennium series: revenge. As she writes, "For Stieg, Lisbeth was the ideal incarnation of a morality that enjoins us to act according to our convictions. A kind of biblical archangel, she is the instrument of God's Vengeance, working title of the fourth volume of the Millennium series."
Gabrielsson fell in love with Larsson in 1972, when they were both 18. She describes their life together in moving detail, and in so doing, begins to stake her claim as the Millennium saga's rightful heir: "It was from our lives and our 32 years side by side that the books were formed," she writes.
Larsson's father and brother, Erland and Joakim, were estranged from Larsson and have benefitted from his work due only to a bizarre loophole in the Swedish legal system, which does not recognize common-law marriage. Their sudden interest in Larsson after his death is, she says, all about financial gain. Gabrielsson insists she doesn't care about the money, and indeed the battles she's been waging—battles that were detailed in the New York Times Magazine last year— have revolved more around control of Larsson's work than around the revenue it brings in. A key element of the ongoing dispute is a laptop containing the unfinished fourth volume of the Millennium series, which is in Gabrielsson's possession, and which the Larsson’s very much want in theirs. Now that is one book that many of us are just dying to read.