The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson It's interesting to consider what sort of books become "international sensations." For example, there's The Alchemist, with its allegorical wisdom, crossing cultural divides and moving hearts. It's been a best seller now for years. There's Da Vinci Code, with it's clever plot and revelatory conclusions about Christianity, so that many readers came to believe the idea of Jesus as big daddy. And, certainly, there is this book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some books are so titanic, you can avoid reading them and still get sucked into knowing all about them, like social osmosis. The thing I like about BIG books like this one is that they often draw non-readers to reading, with the potential of beginning a lovely, new habit. They say the Harry Potter books did this for kids, which is fantastic.

I saw the Dragon Tattoo movie - at least one of them - before reading this, which is certainly not my usual preference. But it allowed me to see that the movie told only about 80% of the novel's story. The book goes into much greater detail on the Wennerström libel case and subsequent information discovered about the Wennerström company. I have to say that this gives the book a sort of ungraceful, incongruous feel to its plot and harms its overall potency. The film version I saw had a screenplay that cleverly condensed things into a much more fluid story arc, allowing the end to be much more powerful.

Why did this book become so big? It's because of Lisbeth, who is one of modern literature's most interesting and likeable heroines. I think people are attracted to individuals in books who are able to act outside the moral guidelines the rest of us have to live by. They allow us to satiate our fantasies of getting back at the idiots and crooks we put up on a daily basis. This is why fiction is such good therapy for so many of us!