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465 pages, Hardcover
First published August 1, 2005
“I’d reckon you’d bite off my hand if I laid a finger on you”.
He slapped her hard. Salander opened her eyes wide, but before she could react, he grabbed her by the shoulder and threw her on to the bed. The violence caught her by surprise. When she tried to turn over, he pressed her down on the bed and straddled her.
“We’re experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange—and you think that’s nonsense?”
“You have to distinguish between two things—the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skövde.
That’s the Swedish economy, and it’s just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago.” He paused for effect and took a sip of water.
“The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn’t have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy.”
“So you’re saying that it doesn’t matter if the Stock Exchange drops like a rock?”
“No, it doesn’t matter at all,” Blomkvist said in a voice so weary and resigned that he sounded like some sort of oracle.
His words would be quoted many times over the following year.
“I considered Pippi Longstocking,” he said, referring to the most famous creation of the Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren, a girl so strong she could carry a horse. “What would she be like today? What would she be like as an adult? What would you call a person like that, a sociopath? Hyperactive? Wrong. She simply sees society in a different light. I’ll make her 25 years old and an outcast. She has no friends and is deficient in social skills. That was my original thought.” That thought evolved into Larsson’s formidable heroine, Lisbeth Salander.
But he felt Salander needed a counterweight if his story was to be a success. Once again he turned to one of Lindgren’s characters, this time to Kalle Blomkvist, boy detective. “Only now he’s 45 years old and a journalist [called Mikael Blomkvist]. An altruistic know-it-all who publishes a magazine called Millennium. The story will revolve around the people who work there.”
* I am pretty sure it received its Book Witness Protection Program name change treatment to avoid being seen as "that feminist crap" in the English-speaking society. Where "feminist" sadly may still be viewed as an insult.Apparently a teenage Larsson witnessed and failed to stop rape of a young woman. He was so affected by it that he wrote his magnum opus to make amends for the witnessed atrocity. Thus we have Men Who Hate Women, which is a short description of the focus of his entire Millenium series. Larsson speaks up - angrily, loudly, with conviction - on behalf of not just Salander but all women who have been marginalized, dismissed, paternalised, silenced, treated as inferior, treated as property, overlooked, infantilized, sexualized, assaulted, and murdered.
** To quote Terry Pratchett (all bow to his genius), "It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it."This book is an angry and poignant social commentary on the right-wing extremism, prejudice, Nazi leanings, and of course misogyny that still permeate even the quintessential European paradise country of Sweden. Larsson condemns all this, and in his journalism-like style does not hold back the slightest bit. And it is often an uncomfortable read as we see and recognize all those little societal bits and conventions that make these prejudices and even violence possible.
The constant references to sandwiches (you get the impression the Swedes eat at least an entire loaf of bread every day), coffee (how on earth do they manage to sleep?) and breasts became tedious very rapidly.I can stay silent no longer. Precious and others, I lived in Sweden for most of the 80s, and I can tell that you Stieg Larsson wasn't making it up: