The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I loved the book—and that’s saying a lot from the girl who avoids books over 400 pages long. Stupid I know, but no matter how good the book is, just around 400 pages is when I start getting antsy and want the book to end. I think with few exceptions most stories wading into the 500 pages and up level tend to have a pacing problem, could use a strong(er) editorial intervention re length and feel (to me) that they could have ended 50 pages ago.

TGWTDT was no different. It needed more editorial input, but the author’s strength--same as Dan Browne--is in the storytelling. Aside from a slow start, the story kept my attention right up to the last page. (This isn’t going to be a review per se, you can find a ton of those over at Amazon).

And I felt sad when I was done. I wanted more. To that end, I went to the bookstore two days later and picked up The Girl Who Played With Fire. I haven’t started it yet because I have some library books to tackle.

The bookstore clerk also recommended a couple other popular Swedish crime writers: Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell. I picked Läckberg’s The Ice Princess and Mankell’s The Pyramid ( a collection of stories that fill in the backstory of the main protagonists of his Kurt Wallander series. If it works for me, I'll start the series).

The store manager also encouraged me to see the Swedish original movie in the theatres now before Hollywood released their version. So, yesterday we went to see TGWTDT movie. My friend thought it was awesome, (as did several audience members by the snippets of commentary overheard as we left the theatre). I thought it was just okay.

To be honest, if I hadn’t read the book I might have been a little bored, and even then the movie totally gutted the book, giving subplots short-shift, losing some characters, fleshing out others. Given the rambling nature of the book I partly can’t blame the screenwriter, but a lot of characterization/nuances were lost in translation. On the other hand, it did give those who had read the book a few surprises because the movie didn’t goose step the exact plot revelation of the book. And, of course, the romance reader/writer/lover in me liked that the romance between Mikael and Lisabeth was portray in a more promising light in the movie than it was by the end of the book.

At the moment, I’m reading Harem by Dora Levy Mossanen. So far so good. It has that touch of magical realism that I really enjoyed in books like Like Water For Chocolate. Depending on how Harems turns out, I might buy a copy for my keeper shelf.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Lush and erotic, this first novel overflows with the magic and sensuality of Arabian Nights tales, 19th-century orientalist paintings and languorous, silken-pantalooned harem beauties. Set in 14th-century Persia, the tale moves easily between the crowded, garbage-strewn alleys of the Jewish quarter and the magnificent palace of the shah. The shah's palace harem is concealed behind a tracery of delicately carved stone panels, where his 365 wives and their many attendant eunuchs lounge, and the queen mother, Bibi Sultana, rules.

In the Jewish quarter, the characters are Rebekah, the indomitable heroine; the ancient Zoroastrian, a seeress; the one-eyed rabbi; the merchant Rouh'Allah, who realizes nearly too late he loves Rebekah; and Moses, fated to be gelded and become a lover to the shah. Rebekah is only 10 when she's married to Jacob the Fatherless, a brutal blacksmith, and branded by him with a hot iron bar between her breasts, a mark that will assume nearly supernatural importance. After Jacob commits suicide, Rebekah becomes a prostitute to support her child, Gold Dust.

Determined to place her daughter within the harem, she sells her charms to Narcissus, the chief eunuch, even though he carries "his manhood pickled in a jar." Gold Dust becomes the shah's favorite, but provides the sonless ruler with another daughter, Raven, who will eventually be as implacable as her grandmother. The multifaceted story involves an invasion by the Mongol hordes under Teymour the Lame (Tamerlane) and daring escapes by Rebekah and Gold Dust. Shamelessly exotic, it's a delightful read and a grandly romantic escapade.

That's prettymuch it in terms of catch up for me. Work is still a grind, I've still got insomnia, and I'll admit to avoiding my wip lately. :-/
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