The New York Times Book Review
"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Meby Eva Gabrielsson
Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson. In "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me, Gabrielsson accepts the daunting challenge of telling their story, steeped in love and sharpened in the struggle for justice and human rights. She chooses to tell it in short, spare, lyrical chapters, like snapshots, regaling Larsson's readers with how he/i>
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Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson. In "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me, Gabrielsson accepts the daunting challenge of telling their story, steeped in love and sharpened in the struggle for justice and human rights. She chooses to tell it in short, spare, lyrical chapters, like snapshots, regaling Larsson's readers with how he wrote, why he wrote, who the sources are were for Lisbeth and his other characters—graciously answering Stieg Larsson's readers' most pressing questions—and at the same time telling us the things we didn't know we wanted to know—about love and loss, death, betrayal, and the mistreatment of women.
The New York Times Book Review
In this candid, moving work, Gabrielsson chronicles her life's journey with her longtime companion, Stieg Larsson, the Swedish creator of the Millennium trilogy who died suddenly at age 50, in 2004, before the first volume of his phenomenally successful work (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in English) was even published. Gabrielsson tells that she had little legal recourse in Sweden to claim his literary and intellectual property even though the childless couple had lived together in Stockholm for 30 years and shared passions for science fiction and political activism; they edited and published their joint antifascist, antiracist newsletter, Expo, begun in the mid-1990s, to combat a wave of extreme right-wing militancy in Sweden. The rights to Larsson's literary trilogy fell posthumously to his father and brother, who shut Gabrielsson out. Gabrielsson writes about their similarities: both came from simple farm people, abandoned as children by their parents to be raised largely by grandparents; they met at a student anti-Vietnam War meeting in 1972 and together moved through leftist movements to find meaningful work, Larsson at the Swedish news agency TT, and Gabrielsson as an architect. Much of their political engagement and feminism is reflected in the Millennium books, the writing of which developed much later in Larsson's career-as Gabrielsson, evidently the person who understood him as few did, warmly, lovingly depicts in this spirited defense of their relationship.
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"There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me
By Eva Gabrielsson
Seven Stories PressCopyright © 2011 Eva Gabrielsson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the novel that opens The Millennium Trilogy, Mikael Blomkvist discovers a photo taken during the Children's Day Parade in Hedeby, the oldest neighborhood in the small town of Hedestad, on the day Harriet Vanger disappeared. Seeking information about that day to help him understand what might have frightened the teenager away, he hunts for the tourist couple who photographed the parade forty years earlier. His research takes him into northern Sweden, first to Norsjö, then to Bjursele, in Västerbotten County. Why there? For most Swedes, those are godforsaken places at the back of beyond, but Stieg knew them well. It was there that he went as a baby in 1955 to live with his maternal grandparents. His father and mother, Erland Larsson and Vivianne Boström, were too young to bring him up properly, and they left to live 600 miles away in the south. In 1957 they moved again to Umeå (pronounced Umio), a small city 125 miles southeast of Norsjö.
Writing about Norsjö and Bjursele was Stieg's way of paying homage to the small community of people there who gave him the best moments of his youth. And a way of thanking them for the values they instilled in him.
* * *
Stieg lived with his grandparents in a small wooden house on the edge of a forest. Their home had a kitchen and one other room, without water, electricity, or an indoor toilet. This kind of house is typical of the Swedish countryside and its family farms, and in those days, when the next generation took over the farm, the old folks would "retire" to such a place. The walls of Stieg's grandparents' house were poorly insulated, and the joints between the planks were probably crammed with sawdust in the old style. The kitchen woodstove on which his grandmother cooked the meals was the only source of heat. In the winter, the temperature outside could drop to as low as -35 degrees Celsius, with—at most—thirty minutes of daylight, and Stieg used to ski cross-country to the village school in the moonlight. Prompted by his natural curiosity, he tirelessly explored the surrounding forests, lakes, and trails, hoping to meet other people and catch glimpses of animals, too. Life was tough where he lived, so it took plenty of ingenuity to survive, but such an environment breeds hardy individuals, self-reliant, resourceful, generous folks who can be counted on in a pinch. Like Stieg.
According to Stieg, his maternal grandfather, Severin, was an anti-Nazi communist who was imprisoned in an internment camp during World War II. After the war, such militants were not exactly welcomed back into society. Even at the time, people didn't want to talk about this period in Swedish history, and what happened then is still not common knowledge today. In 1955, Severin quit his job in a factory and left Skelleftehamn—where Stieg was born—to move into that small wooden house with his wife and their baby grandson. To support his little family, Severin repaired bikes and engines and did odd jobs on the local farms. Stieg adored going hunting and fishing with him. At the beginning of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mikael Blomkvist accepts an offer from Henrik Vanger, Harriet Vanger's uncle, to move into the guest house not far from Hedestad. It's the middle of winter, and he describes the "ice roses that formed on the inside of the windows": they were the same ones that used to fascinate Stieg in his grandparents' home, roses that grew from vapor in the family's breath and the water always boiling on the stove. He never forgot those magnificent visions, or the cold he could describe from personal experience. His childhood was a hard one, but it was full of joy and affection.
In black-and-white family snapshots, a little boy smiles between two grown-ups who've been having fun disguising themselves for the camera. Those two taught Stieg that nothing is impossible in this life. And that chasing after money is contemptible. His grandfather had an old Ford Anglia, the motor of which he'd probably repaired thanks to his skills as a mechanic and handyman, and this very car, with AC on its license plate for Västerbotten, is the one Mikael must track down during his search for Harriet Vanger. To write his trilogy, Stieg used a thousand such small details taken from life. From his life, from mine, and from ours.
Excerpt from "There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson (Seven Stories Press, June 2011).
Excerpted from "There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson Copyright © 2011 by Eva Gabrielsson . Excerpted by permission of Seven Stories Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
EVA GABRIELSSON is an architect, author, and political activist. As part of her architectural practice, she has led a European Union initiative to create sustainable architecture in the Dalecarlia region in Central Sweden. Gabrielsson is the coauthor of several books, including a monograph on the subject of cohabitation in Sweden, a government study on sustainable housing, and a forthcoming study on the Swedish urban planner Per Olof Hallman. She has also translated into Swedish Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson met in 1972, when they were both eighteen, and lived and wrote together from 1974 until his death in 2004. Their struggle together for social justice was the basis for the books in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Gabrielsson lives in Stockholm.
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A beautiful, heartbreaking love story. Much more about Eva and Stieg's relationship (spanning over 3 decades!) and the grief of losing one's soulmate than it is about the Millennium books and ensuing controversy. Highly recommended.
It proves that in the eyes of the law, marriage has absolutely nothing to do with loving someone. It's a business contract plain and simple. This author's choice to not bind their love legally was a personal decision I applaud. More so, when someone goes into a room to write a book, the entire family (most certainly the significant other), is just as much a part of that process as the author. Ideas are shared and text is edited. I wholeheartedly believe Eva Gabrielsson was as much responsible for the success of the characters as was Stieg Larsson. In his honor I purchased this book, and in honor of their choice to not mix up a good thing with the letter of the law, I wish her all the financial and emotional success she deserves.
My hope in getting this book was to read the inside view on the whole Stieg Larsson drama. Given that the writer was closely involved and eloquent that seemed a reasonable expectation. Yes the book gives the inside story, and no it still doesn't really explain anything. A question that has been brought up by others is if it really was Stieg who wrote the Millennium books. Eva answers that one convincingly. Yes, he did. What is not answered is why Stieg's journalistic writings are so simplistic and un-expressive when compared to his novels. How can that be? No answer is given. Eva Gabrielsson courageously describes the pagan 'nid' ceremony she performed after Stieg's death. This took place way before the scandals with money and author's rights. The thing about such a ceremony is that it cements anger. For example, "I hope that the trickster Loki spellbinds your eyes, and you will cut one another down." It is hard to see a victory coming out of this. And life duly responded and gave no victory. I live in Sweden. I am a foreigner here. When Eva describes the unfolding of the legal cases after Stieg's death I can nod all the way through. Yes, that is how Swedes operate. Swedish people have an internalized legal system. They instinctively know that by doing nothing they can win legal battles, because the fight is taken up in their favor automatically whenever the letter of the law seems to be on their side. When Stieg Larsson died everyone 'knew' that his work belonged to Eva. The publisher fell through and suddenly looked at the paper contract. The family fell through and suddenly realized there was money in this. The rest is history, a rather unfortunate history for all involved. The story is unique and bizarre. If Lisbeth Salander had been involved we all know what would have happened to Stieg's brother and father. Because Lisbeth represents our unbridled sense of justice, just like for example Jack Reacher in Lee Child's books does. So we all know. And can't or won't do anything about it. By Stephen Muires, author of 'Ordained - a novel'
Earlier this week, Knopf announced a publication date of 01 September for the 4th book featuring Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander - “The Girl in the Spider's Web”. Given that Larsson died before he could enjoy the benefits of the success of the Millenium trilogy, the notification states “David Lagercrantz … was hand-selected by the Larsson estate to write this stand-alone sequel based on Stieg Larsson's characters.” The press release, for obvious reasons, avoids the fact that Larsson left his own incomplete version of a 4th book as a follow-up to the Millenium Trilogy. Why has this book, in whatever form it exists, not yet seen the light of day? The answer, along with a lot of other material, can be found in Eva Gabrielsson's '“There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larrson and Me'. Ms. Gabrielsson and Mr. Larsson were longtime partners at the time of his death – which, in short, means that she had no legal right to Larsson's material legacy upon his death. On the other hand, the father and brother who control the Larsson estate do not have possession of the laptop containing his work in progress. No one wins a battle like this; the only question is the severity of the loss. The book appears to have been a cathartic attempt by Miss Gabrielsson to deal with the twin demons of her partner's death and her monetary abandonment. As such, much of it portrays the late author as a heroic figure – whose flaws lean towards overwork, under-exercise, refusal to visit a doctor, and poor eating habits. The author herself vacillates between a “I'm strong and will move on” attitude and a “woe is me” lament. No one will accuse this book of walking a tightrope between two opposing viewpoints! Fans of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the other books in the Millenium Trilogy will find more than enough informational detail in this book to justify the time it takes to read it – provided they don't mind the fact that the author holds little sympathy for the current legal heirs to the Larsson estate. RATING: 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 stars where 1/2 stars are not accepted.
I loved the Millenium Trilogy which is the reason I purchased Eva Gabrielsson book. It is appalling that the Swedish government does not recognize a common law union and their laws need to changed immediately. Stieg's father's and brother's behavior is unconscionable. Eva is absolutely entitled to share in Stieg's estate and my heart goes out to her for her tremendous loss. I know the pain of losing a loved one. That being said, Eva's book was a total disappointment. Although I did learn about Stieg's earlier life and his struggles I found the book to be just a rambling whiney diatribe of a very self-absorbed woman. I could not wait to finish this book. It was torture reading it but once I start a book I read it to the end whether I like it or not. I did not like this book at all and I don't think I like this woman very much. I'm very sorry I spent my hard-earned money on this trash.
I think that some of the people will love it but i dont know that right know because i didnt read it so i guess that some of us r going to like it and some of u guys will hate it so thats all im going to say if u want to learn more read other peoples about what they wrote about the book :D