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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Friday, March 30

The Girl Who Played with Fire

I finally, finally, finally finished reading the second in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire. If you’re an ardent Stieg Larsson fan, you won’t want to hear what I’m about to say. This one rated “finally” three times because this one was even longer than Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 724 densely packed pages, a length that was totally unnecessary. I can’t figure out why so many people rave about this series when it’s in such serious need of a qualified editor, someone to cull out all the unnecessary bullshit, all the needless details, all the confusion of names and places. For example, at the beginning of Fire, Lisbeth is taking an extended tour of the world, finding herself in Grenada, loving it there in that peaceful spot in the Caribbean. There she meets George Bland, a young man who lives on the beach, and discovers that they share a love of higher mathematics, which leads to a sharing of his bed. She’s staying in a hotel room next to a Dr. Forbes and his wife. She hears almost nightly beatings of the wife. Then hurricane Matilda comes roaring in, nearly destroying Grenada. We never hear what happens to George; we hear that Dr. Forbes was swept out to sea in the storm. End of episode. She returns to Sweden. What in the world was that about? A minor plot thread that’s never part of the main plot fabric. It had no bearing whatsoever on the rest of the story. Another example. When Lisbeth buys an expensive apartment as a hidey hole where no one could ever find her, she goes to a store for provisions, and the reader is given an item by item description of everything she buys. Why? Another example. Inspector Holmberg inspects the apartment of Dag and Mia, two journalists who were killed because they were working on an exposé of the sex trade in Sweden. It takes Larsson seven pages to catalogue each and every thing Holmberg examined, each and every place he looked. The only relevant detail that came out of this search: that Dag’s computer was missing. Seven pages. I remember that when Mark Twain died, hundreds of pages of autobiography were found, a veritable mountain of material that editors finally cut down to a manageable size. The same should have been done with Larsson’s trilogy. I agree with those who think Lisbeth is one of the most unique fictional characters ever created, I agree that the ending of Girl was exciting, although a bit absurd in Lisbeth's actions in that final scene. But the damn thing is too long by about 50%. My other complaint has to do with his point of view, an omniscience that jumps all over the place, often in tiny little segments involving one character or another, even a fox near the end of the novel, a bit of unintended comic relief when the fox lifts a leg and pisses on a fresh mound of earth that just happens to be covering Lisbeth. The plot details and the characters are good, but the writing style could be duplicated by a computer. There’s just nothing about it that I’d consider great writing. He includes almost no physical description, almost no interior musing by the characters. And sometimes he (or the translator) says something that feels so wrong. For example, “Zalachenko should not have left the door unlocked. It was giving her goose bumps on the back of her neck.” Goose bumps? On the back of her neck? Okay, okay, so I’m nitpicking again. I just don’t think Larsson’s writing is very good. Just look at this bit from James Lee Burke’s latest, Feast Day of Fools: "Hackberry loved the place he lived, and he loved walking inside its soft radiance in the morning, and he loved following his grandfather's admonition to feed his animals before he fed himself. He loved the smell of his roses inside the coolness of the dawn and the smell of well water bursting into the horse tank when he released the chain on the windmill. He loved the warm odor of grass on the breath of his horses and the vinegary smell of their coats, and the powdery green cloud of hay particles that rose around him when he pulled a bale apart and scattered it on the concrete pad in the barn." There. That’s good writing.

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