I liked the comments because they humanized the man behind the astonishing Larsson phenomenon. Once you start becoming the focus of conspiracy theories and notorious court cases (in Europe) and once your books start getting displayed next to volumes about Michael Jackson (in Philadelphia), calm discussion starts looking for its coat, making its excuses, and glancing nervously at the door.
So I regard with affection what I take to be traces of the first-time novelist in the first two hundred or so pages of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. One such trace is the occasional wordiness in routine exposition. Ordinarily I don't like that sort of thing; here, it made Larsson seem more human.
But I especially liked co-protagonist Mikael Blomkvist's rants against his fellow financial journalists, and I take Blomkvist as a stand-in for Larsson. Here are two examples:
"In the last 20 years, Swedish financial journalists had developed into a group of incompetent lackeys who were puffed up with self-importance and who had no record of thinking critically."and
"The article was written by a columnist who had previously worked for Monopoly Financial Magazine ... who cheerfully ridiculed anyone who felt passionate about any issue or who stuck their neck out. ... The writer was not known for espousing a single conviction of his own."If that's a first-time novelist failing to separate himself from his character, so be it. Those passages are fun, and that's what reading is for.
(Stieg Larsson's English translator, Steven T. Murray [a.k.a. Reg Keeland], will be a member of my panel on crime fiction and translation at Bouchercon 2009.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2009