February 16, 2011
Sasha Watson at Slate reviews the French edition of Eva Gabrielsson’s memoir about Stieg Larsson:
Gabrielsson fell in love with Larsson in 1972, when they were both 18. She describes their life together in moving detail, and in so doing, begins to stake her claim as the Millennium saga’s rightful heir: “It was from our lives and our 32 years side by side that the books were formed,” she writes. “They’re the fruit of Stieg’s experience, but also of mine. Of our combats, our engagements, our travels, our passions, our fears … . That’s why I can’t say exactly what, in Millennium, came from Stieg, and what came from me.” Rumors that Larsson didn’t write the books have circulated since they were first published—some have claimed he didn’t have the necessary writing skills—but Gabrielsson refutes this idea. The books’ abundant detail – about security systems, the white power underground, computer hacking, and Swedish political history—all trace back to the causes and interests to which Larsson and Gabrielsson had devoted their lives, she writes. The neighborhoods he describes are their neighborhoods; the cabins in Sweden’s north, their vacation spots; the mathematical theorems, their obsessions.
In Gabrielsson’s view, Larsson’s work was his life, and his life was also her life, and now all of it has been hijacked. Moreover, as she tells it, Larsson’s father and brother, Erland and Joakim, were all but estranged from Larsson and have benefitted from his work due only to a bizarre quirk of the Swedish legal system, which does not recognize common-law marriage. Their sudden interest in Larsson after his death is, she says, all about financial gain. Gabrielsson insists she doesn’t care about the money, and indeed the battles she’s been waging—battles that were detailed in the New York Times Magazine last year— have revolved more around control of Larsson’s work than around the revenue it brings in. A key element of the ongoing dispute is a laptop containing the unfinished fourth volume of the Millennium series, which is in Gabrielsson’s possession, and which the Larssons very much want in theirs.
In interviews, a stony-faced Gabrielsson has scoffed at “the Stieg industry,” saying she has no desire to pander to those who obsess over what he ate for breakfast. She clearly blames Erland and Joakim for allowing Stieg’s name to be commercialized to the extent that it has been. “The way things are going,” she writes, “how long will it be before I see his picture on a bottle of beer, a packet of coffee, or a car?” By providing a more serious presentation of Larsson and his beliefs—which she believes has been neglected by the Stieg industry—she sees her memoir as the first step in righting a long series of wrongs. What she offers, to that end, is an intellectual, political, and personal history of their relationship and of the books.
Read the rest of the review here.
Seven Stories Press will publish the English version in June 2011, containing new material from Ms. Gabrielsson not found in the French edition.