Monday, August 01, 2011

Dissecting and Debating the “Girl”

Something happens when a book goes all mega-seller. Take, for instance, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. It just seems that, without much apparent effort, all of a sudden people want to start running in your tracks and scraping off a bit of what you’ve created.

This has happened before. Remember the craziness that followed in the wake of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003)? But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a much, much better book. In terms of being in position to spawn derivative and far inferior works, Larsson’s Millennium series is the whole and complete package. A runaway international bestseller with a broad appeal and a large and growing following, plus an author shrouded in mystery who died even before the first book was published. Stir in a greedy family and a heartbroken life partner, and you’ve got the recipe for a bestseller with coattails so long, you just know that everyone and his uncle Sven is going to try and ride them. A lot of books like, about, and evoking Larrson’s trilogy have already been published and you get the feeling that the turnout has only just begun.

Now all of that said, and despite its derivative title, The Tattooed Girl (St. Martin’s Griffin) is not actually one of those books. Rather, author Dan Burstein has enlisted a few people in the know, along with several others claiming strong voices, strong opinions or both, to throw their two bits into the hat on the topic of some aspect of Larrson-ese or Dragon Tattoo lore. Burstein and writing partner Arne de Keuzer have used this approach before, including (gasp!) several books on aspects of Da Vinci Code-ishness. Truth be told, if you take a close gander through Burstein’s backlist, you see what looks like someone starting to make a career out of Dan Brown-ishness and Da Vinci Code-relatedness.

But then, here we are in a whole new ballgame, albeit one that looks as though it might have legs. Note this, though: The Tattooed Girl actually stands alone, functioning as a collection of writings on and about and even somewhat near Stieg Larsson and his phenomenal, posthumously published series. The contributors to this new book are either connected with the author and/or his work or are willing to share their judgments regarding, as the subtitle of this volume states, “The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time.” From the Introduction:
Other unique insights and thought-provoking sidelights await you, from commentaries about the efforts to turn The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into a Hollywood film (premiering in December 2011), to an interview with the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, to a talk with the real-life champion boxer, Paolo Roberto, who, after Larsson’s death, suddenly discovered himself a character in the novels.
Do you really need to know any of this stuff? Probably not. But if you are one of those fans who can’t get enough and really wishes there were more to look forward to, The Tattooed Girl might sate your appetite. For a moment. Let’s face it: whatever you think of his series, Larsson didn’t create it by being derivative.

1 comment:

Chuck Hustmyre said...

What a monumental waste of time The Tattooed Girl, not this blog post.

What a shameless attempt to cash in on someone else's success. It seems particularly sleazy given that the author of the work in question is dead.

The jackals are circling.