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02 June 2010

Chica! Chica! Man! Man!

As Books on First had shortened hours for the holiday weekend and it rained yesterday (although certainly not in buckets-full, like in Elwood, IL, where US President Barack Obama went to speak), we were able to enjoy some reading time.  So, I was able to start and finish the English version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  As I was looking for the image within Ingram Books's B-to-B website, I saw all these great covers.  Here's the full set in Spanish:


The titles, if my 6.5 years of school Spanish counts for anything, are Men Who Did Not Love Women, The Girl Who Slept with a Match and a Gallon of Gasoline and Queen in the Palace of Air Currents.  I have to admit I was never satisfied with my translations; they have never been elegant enough.  I wonder why they could not have a straight Spanish translation of the Swedish titles.  I am not sure about the second and third books, but the first book is definitely called Man som Hatar Kvinnor

Speaking of translations, I would like to give Steve Murray aka Reg Keelund much credit for making the English translations of the Millenium Series as interesting as they are.  The slow, oft-plodding narrative with strangely hit-or-miss detailed descriptions of clothing (sometimes including colors, sometimes not and sometimes including unsatisfying adjectives like "thin") that the characters don and of the food they prepare (toast with cheese and marmalade?) or buy or order in a restaurant and eat add to the suspensefulness, and the "Swedishness" of the writing.  I often think of films by Ingmar Bergman, like The Seventh Seal, to complete the scenery backdrop for the countryside scenes.  For modern-day Stockholm, I am sure I have seen films picturing the vast concrete streets and sidewalks with curbs with steel barriers, Saabs, Renaults and Hondas as well as exhaust-belching carrier trucks driving over huge zebra crossings past massive government buildings, and scooters with helmeted riders tooting down narrow lanes lined with gabled homes fronted by wrought iron fences, although I can't remember any such films by name   In the third book, I suspect Larsson tossed in some English, forcing the translator to write that the character "said in English" ...  That makes translation flow extremely awkwardly.  I am thinking maybe they should have just italicized it as if it were foreign ("Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt").  I wonder if it's simply written in English in the Spanish or the Chinese version.  (Yes, there are Chinese versions of this series. Behold, the cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
)
And, I am glad there's a photograph of Stieg Larsson on the book jackets.  What a cutie!  And, his reputation as a serious journalist and a fighter of neo-Nazism and right-wing extremism...be still my heart!  In my mind's eye, he is Mikael Blomkvist, no doubt about it. A biography is coming out (it had been anticipated for about a year now), called The Man Who Left Too Soon, which has the same photo on the cover.

What is all this fuss about?  I found a great blurb that says it all:  "Maureen Corrigan labels it 'super-smart noir with a feminist jolt'."  Sorry, I don't even know who Maureen Corrigan is, but thank her for this.  My personal favorite is the second one, The Girl Who Played with Fire, which some would say sums up the key to the phenomenal success of this trilogy -- resilient and resourceful Lisbeth who refuses to be a victim, appealing to women and suspensefully paced action and violence appealing to men. The first book was more about the wonders of research and trend analysis, which is not everyone's cup of tea. The final book in the trilogy delivered to his publisher before Larsson's death of a heart attack in 2004 (rumors of foul play by right-wing extremists aside) is certainly more mainstream, except for the introduction of intriguing historical facts on women warriors like the "Amazons." All three books are different, but have the common strands of Larsson's writing style, Murray's translation style, the backdrop of modern-day Sweden and those fascinating characters.

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