notgettingenough 's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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Dec 23, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: crime-fiction
Read in December, 2009

PS: I hadn't realised until I finished reading the legal arguments being prepared for Assange that his defence is now headed by no less than Geoffrey Robertson. If you ask me, that should be enough to make grown-up countries quake in their boots.

12/1 update:

Those following the Swedish attempt to extradite Assange should take a look at this:

It is the 35 page skeleton argument just lodged by his lawyers in the UK prior to the extradition hearing being held early in February.


Thanks, Randall

11 Dec update: I can't resist showing you Dilbert's Blog:

Here's a list of three things that you are unlikely to do, at least in this order:

1. Watch a Swedish movie called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2. Read about the Swedish sex charges against Julian Assange
3. Book a vacation to Sweden

I am always amused by the strange impact of unintended consequences. Julian Assange simply wanted to release some embarrassing information, have hot sex with a Swedish babe then have hot sex with an acquaintance of that same babe one day later. That's just one example of why the Swedish language has 400 words that all mean "and your cute friend is next."

But things didn't turn out as Assange hoped. The unintended consequence of his actions is that he managed to make Sweden look like a country that's governed by congenital idiots and populated with nothing but crazy sluts and lawyers. And don't get me started about the quality of their condoms.

To be fair, I don't know if Assange's alleged broken condom is because the product was defective. We have good evidence that Assange has the world's biggest set of nuts, so assuming some degree of proportionality, he'd put a strain on any brand of condom that didn't have rebar ribs.

Assange had a lot of help making Sweden look like the last place on Earth that you would want to take your penis. The aforementioned megahit movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes the place look like a snow-filled ass cave that Jeffrey Dahmer lived in before he got a raise. (It's a good movie otherwise.)

If you haven't read any background about the so-called rape charges against Assange, you really should. Apparently Swedish laws are unique. If you have a penis, you're half a rapist before you even get through customs. And if your condom breaks, that's jail time. What I'm saying is that the Club Med in Sweden is a nervous place.

I was having a hard time making up my mind about Assange. On one hand, he might be hurting the interests of my country and putting people in danger. Death to him! On the other hand, a little extra government transparency might prevent more problems than it causes. Hero! It was a toss-up. Then Sweden turned Assange from a man-whore publicity hound into Gandhi. Advantage: Assange.

The one thing I know for sure is that I'm a fan of the hackers who are dispensing vigilante justice. Here's another unintended consequence: The hackers could end up organizing over this issue and ultimately forming a shadow government of their own, if they haven't already. I welcome my hacker overlords.

Prediction: The governments of the world can't let Assange become a martyr. He would be too powerful. They'll pressure Sweden to release him on some sort of technicality.


29/11/10 Update: Oh. I have to rethink something that irked me about this book. The author heads each chapter with a statistic about violence against women in Sweden. I didn't understand the point then, other than the idea that it was like his graphic sexual descriptions: to titillate. But suddenly the light has been turned on.

I have just discovered that although Sweden's public image is a State intent upon gender equality, and you hear all the time about how wonderful it is, in private this is anything but so. In particular domestic violence is a terrible problem and doing anything about it even worse.

NYT 2005:

But there is one significant blot on the record of women's empowerment here: domestic violence, a crime that until recently remained muffled in shame. Swedish men are not any more violent toward women in Sweden than the men of most other West European countries are toward their countrywomen. It has simply been easier for them to get away with violence against wives and girlfriends, experts and politicians said, and harder for women to get the help they need. Attitudes about wife-beating have been slow to change, they say.

In an unforeseen twist, Sweden's well-guarded sense of privacy and its leadership on women's rights served for many years to mute, rather than elevate, the issue into the public sphere. Rather than boldly tackle the pattern of violence, many people in Sweden took a different approach: they dismissed it as the sort of thing that happens somewhere else and to someone else.

"The equality thing put a wet blanket over the issue," said Eva Hassel Calais, assistant to the chairwoman of the National Organization for Women's Shelters.


"We've had to change our picture of ourselves in Sweden" said Maria Carlshamre, a former television journalist, who acknowledged last summer to viewers - against the station's wishes - that her husband had abused her for a decade. "We are not the gender equality champions of the world."

How fascinating. My cursory impression is that things aren't better since this report, but I'm still looking for information.

At the time what I didn't really understand about Larsson making this a theme is that his statistics were scarcely surprising. But I can now see that they would have been news to SWEDISH readers, since women are happy to pretend to look equal to the world outside but put up with anything but when they closed their door at home. Larsson was making Swedish women stare at themselves in print.

You live and learn.


What a pot-boiling, page-turning, ripping good yarn.

Evidently I will not be the first to say that if you are tested by the first 150 pages or so, stick to it, I don’t know if I could say why, but do.

And it’s a ripping good yarn with a moral. You can’t let being bullied or abused be an excuse for not doing the right thing. It’s the hardest thing in the world to admit, when you are being bullied or abused, that you can do something about it, that you are exercising a choice here. To become an abuser or bully of others because that is what’s happening to you is inexcusable. This moral probably won’t mean anything much to you unless you have both been in an abusive relationship and recognise that you have.

Having, to my ever lasting discredit, not fought hard enough for people and things I loved when I have been in such relationships, I have to say Salander is 100% right. She's the character who brings this moral to the story, a character who irritated me greatly to begin with. She's so much like a formula of looks and accoutrements, but if you get over that you are left with a girl it is hard not to love. She even does one of the things that irks me as much as anything in popular media – young girl shagging old man – and makes it believable. I found my reading prejudices being shed every time I turned a page.

I have to add this, having just finished The Conqueror as well.

And I suddenly wonder if I’ve been reading too much intellectual pretension; or it turns out Norwegians are different from Swedes and I try to remember the difference between their bridge players, and I remember only that I fancy going to bed with the Swedes but not the Norwegians; and I wonder yet again what is good writing and what is bad, and if it is so that 12 million flies can’t be wrong. Can’t be.

The Conqueror pp 457-458 of the English edition

And now…Jonas was lying with his nose pressed into the mattress of one of the bunks, with Gabriel on top of him, puffing and panting. He was drunk but lucid enough to feel like a puppet, with a big hand stuck up inside him.

He turned his head to the side, to scream, to say something, but still could not utter a sound, nor did he want to; instead his eye fell on a glass standing on a small table next to the bunk, he saw the false teeth lying in it, caught the glint of a gold tooth, but still it took a few seconds for him to connect this with Gabriel, for him to realise that even the man’s teeth were false. And as Gabriel took him harder and harder, driving into him, uncontrollably, groaning, Jonas saw the gnashers cackling at him from the glass, as if they were laughing at his naivety, at how easily he had allowed himself to be hoodwinked.

And yet, in the midst of this humiliation, or act of atonement, or pleasure, or reparation, or liberation, or whatever it was – maybe he was quite simply being put to the test – the glass reminded Jonas that Gabriel had also stressed the important of willpower, the need for reckless defiance….

Yes, it was true. He lay with the sour smell of the mattress in his nose, proving it now. Unless it was Gabriel who was demonstrating it to him now. Showing him that he could stand it, this penetration that went beyond the tentacles of words….

Jonas was left lying there, feeling sure that he was going to die; but gradually he felt the pain give way to a pleasant warmth and a realisation that, for some minutes he had been bounded in a nutshell but was now a king of infinite space.

And here p. 224 of my edition of The Girl...

Shit, she thought when he ripped up her T-shirt. She realised with terrifying clarity that she was out of her depth.

She heard him open the dresser drawer next to the bed and caught the clanking sound of metal. At first she did not understand what was happening; then she saw the handcuffs close around her wrist. He pulled up her arm, placed the handcuffs around one of the bedposts, and locked her other hand. It did not take him long to pull off her boots and jeans. Then he took off her knickers and held them in his hand….

‘So you don’t like anal sex,’ he said.

Salander opened her mouth to scream. He grabbed her hair and stuffed the knickers in her mouth. She felt him putting something around her ankles, spread her legs apart and tie them so that she was lying there completely vulnerable. She heard him moving around the room but she could not see through the T-shirt around her face. It took him several minutes. She could hardly breathe. Then she felt an excruciating pain as he forced something up her anus.

What does it mean that Larsson leaves you feeling raped, while Kjaerstad leaves you feeling like, I dunno….it’s a job interview for a writing position.
What I would like to know is whether Kjaerstad is leaving the reader totally disengaged on purpose?

I might also add at this point, straightforward rape is no longer sexually titillating enough to be used, it has to be anal. But what happens when, as soon it will be the case, we yawn at that? Where will Larsson and Kjaerstad go then?

PS: Ah, I did find out where you go to when anal rape becomes ho-hum. Wildlife shoved into vaginas. Of course.
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Reading Progress

12/23/2009 page 38
8.17% "...he was not interested in flat-chested girls who might be mistaken for skinny boys at a distance."
12/23/2009 page 61
13.12% " long as you and I trust each other we've got a chance..."
12/23/2009 page 62
13.33% "They only got up to go to the bathroom or to get something to eat, but they had not only made love. They had lain...for hours...and talked."
12/24/2009 page 126
27.1% "Um. I'd like to complain about how Christmas Day here is going to be cold, 23C. But it seems a bit churlish when it's -21C for Blomkvist."
12/25/2009 page 528
100% "What she realised was that love was that moment when your heart is about to burst."

Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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Paul Bryant The gnashers cacked? Really?

notgettingenough Paul wrote: "The gnashers cacked? Really?"

Grumble, grumble, grumble. Gets out of bed to find book. Wishes for better proofreader than self. Okay, Paul, cackling, not cacking. I hope that's it for the evening.

Paul Bryant Well, stay tuned. Anyway, it's mid-morning. Oh yes - you're on the other side of this planet. Funny thing, that. So it is a globe, then. Hmmm. So the photos weren't faked. Man really did go to the moon. It all really happened.

notgettingenough I don't know where to put this. I'm staying with somebody right now who is a stickler for neatness. I have all these little strips of ripped up paper sitting next to the bed where my computer and I are lodging. I keep track of what I want to refer to in my reviews with them, of course. And, having finished a book last night, I consequently had a little pile of unemployed bits of paper just sitting there, minding their own business, I'd say.

'They're my bookmarks' I say to him as he sweeps them up into his hand to take them away. 'They,' he says, 'Are rubbish.'

So much for goodreads, I think to myself.

Paul Bryant I could frame a response to this if you could have taken a photo of the little pile and pasted it in here. Maybe the little pile was actually a foot high. Maybe there were several little piles.

Scribble Orca I had this on my TR list. I'm afraid the rape scenes (both of them actually) offended my delicate sensibilities. Which is a pity, because I did rather enjoy the little bit of Larsson that I'd read (extract) a few months ago back in Germany. Oh well. Next book.

notgettingenough G N wrote: "I had this on my TR list. I'm afraid the rape scenes (both of them actually) offended my delicate sensibilities. Which is a pity, because I did rather enjoy the little bit of Larsson that I'd rea..."

I'm about to start reading the third one. I was really looking forward to the idea ages ago after I'd finished the second, but now that it is upon me I feel less enthusiastic. For now I'll blame being really sick.

Scribble Orca You have a braver constitution than I. Commiserations on the being really sick - hot lemon with honey, eucalyptus oil inhaled in hot water, and a hot water bottle. Plenty of Vitamin C and echinacea if you're able to obtain it.

notgettingenough G N wrote: "You have a braver constitution than I. Commiserations on the being really sick - hot lemon with honey, eucalyptus oil inhaled in hot water, and a hot water bottle. Plenty of Vitamin C and echinac..."

God, GN. They all sound horrible!!! Except for Vitamin C.

I think a hug would be better. Somebody bringing me cups of tea. Actually, unfortunately none of what you suggest would help in the least. Nor would hugs and cups of tea...but at least they are nice.

Okay. Hot water bottle could be good, I've never had one. When I was little they were for grownups and now that I'm grownup, I'd rather have a warm body in the bed. Of course, that is easier said than done...Sighs in fetchingly sad way.

Scribble Orca I think we are having two conversations here. The one in which GN and Notgettingenough are writing words in cyberspace, and the one in which Notgettingenough is talking to someone elsewhere.

It won't help, of course, but here's a big hug.


I'd fail on the warm body requirement as badly as on the previous suggestions to ease your malaise.

message 11: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Was disappointed to see I'd already voted for this review.

notgettingenough Paul wrote: "Was disappointed to see I'd already voted for this review."

That is so sweet to say, thank you.

Eric_W Magnificent.

Scribble Orca (and there follows a number of highly colourful expletives...)

WHY can I only like this review once?

And by the way, which book is under discussion here?

message 15: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant The book of NGE's life

message 16: by Alan (new)

Alan Very interesting stuff, Not, and I agree with you about Assange - I was ambivalent towards him too, thinking that some secrets have to be kept don't they (national security and all that) but having seen what was exposed and having watched the recent John Pilger dopcumentary on war reporting (on which Assange appeared) he is my new hero too. The sexual assault charges seem trumped up to me.

message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica From what I read it seems Assange's 2 women were not mates, but happened to meet and share information...and so on...
oh well. either way--

message 18: by notgettingenough (last edited Dec 16, 2010 04:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

notgettingenough Jessica wrote: "From what I read it seems Assange's 2 women were not mates, but happened to meet and share information...and so on...
oh well. either way--"

I have absolutely no information other than what is generally available to go on and clearly JA is not an angel...but it sounds to me a bit like trophy hunters wanting it all ways. Like the girls who trophy hunt football players. It's an IQ test, isn't it. We all actually know what to expect, it's not like a newsflash when it turns out badly and that you, not they, are the trophy. So, there are girls out there, victims of the worst behaviour of those sorts of guys who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. On top of everything dreadful that has happened to them, they run the risk of being tarred with that brush. Trophy hunters who try it on after things don't turn out their way.

Isn't there any sense of duty that is relevant here as well as rights? If you jump into bed with somebody you met an hour ago you have no idea what is going to happen. I'm not saying don't do it, but frankly, when I've done it and it has turned out okay, I'm thought no more than that I'm a complete moron who got away with something and might not have. If I'd had something terrible happen to me, I would have considered myself at least partly to blame.

message 19: by Jessica (new)

Jessica all that is true.
what I find suspect is that Sweden originally threw out the rape charges and now they've been brought out again--
political, i say.

notgettingenough Jessica wrote: "all that is true.
what I find suspect is that Sweden originally threw out the rape charges and now they've been brought out again--
political, i say."

Maybe. I do like conspiracies and wikileaks has established that Sweden has what was a secret relationship with the US....

notgettingenough Paul wrote: "The book of NGE's life"

Ha! If I found myself trapped in a bag of angry marshmellows I wouldn't be able to fight my way out. I barely know where the on-off switch is on my computer. I really don't want to have sex with girls - sorry, I think somebody wanted to be my friend on goodreads who might be disappointed by that, though I don't think it's a newsflash. And what's that other thing...oh yes. I have a crap memory.

so NOT me!!!

notgettingenough Alan wrote: "The sexual assault charges seem trumped up to me..."

Oh, I doubt that. I really think by the sound of it, it's hard for penises in Sweden to do much without getting into legal trouble. As Dilbert said, boys, do your Club Med trip somewhere else.

message 23: by j (new) - rated it 4 stars

j snow-filled ass cave.

notgettingenough Joel wrote: "snow-filled ass cave."

Kind of gross, huh. Speaking as a girl. I haven't seen the movie, but I don't understand, from the book, why the movie would be like this.

message 25: by Jessica (new)

Jessica re: Assange. A friend from Sweden on FB writes:

"He's not been charged in Sweden. If the police think he's done something, then charge him. A Euro Warrant doesn't require charges.

The original charges were brought in Stockholm, where the original incidents were alledged to have happened b...ut these were dropped. During this period, Assange *volunteered* to come forward to answer questions by the prosecutor, but the prosecuter never asked him to come in.

The case was resurrected again in Gothenburg, a city a fair distance from Stockholm. Then it was red-flagged at Interpol. Then the extradition procedures in the UK started. Assange *voluntarily* came forward, and was promptly arrested. Either he's completely psychotic or, wait a minute, he might well be acting like an innocent man.

IMO, if this was anyone but Assange there wouldn't even be a issue."

notgettingenough Jessica wrote: "re: Assange. A friend from Sweden on FB writes:

"He's not been charged in Sweden. If the police think he's done something, then charge him. A Euro Warrant doesn't require charges.

The original ch..."

Thank you, Jessica, illuminating.

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