Thursday, July 28, 2011

Non-Fiction: The Tattooed Girl by Dan Burstein, et al.

Something happens when a book goes all mega-seller. Take, for instance, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. It just seems that, without much seeming effort and all of a sudden people want to start running in your tracks and scraping off a bit of what you’ve created.

For instance, look at the craziness that followed in the wake of The Da Vinci Code. And play this song any way you like it: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a much, much better book. In terms of being in position to spawn derivative and far inferior works, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series is the whole and complete package. A runaway international bestseller with a broad appeal and a large and growing following with an author shrouded in mystery who died before even the first book was published. Stir in a greedy family and a heartbroken life partner and you’ve got the recipe for a bestseller with coattails so long, you just know that everyone and their Uncle Sven are going to try and ride them. A lot of books like and about and evoking Larrson’s bestsellers have already been published and you get the feeling that we’ve only just begun.

Now all of that said, despite the derivative title, The Tattooed Girl is not actually one of those books. Rather author Dan Burstein has gotten a few of those in the know along with a few others with a strong voice, strong opinions or both to throw their two bits into the hat on the topic of some aspect of Larrson-ese or Dragon Tattoo lore. Burstein and writing partner Arne de Keuzer have used this approach before, including (gasp!) several books on several aspects of Da Vinci Codeishness. Truth be told, take a close look at Burstein’s backlist, and you see what looks like someone starting to make a career out of Dan Brownishness and Da Vinci Code-relatedness. And, then, here we are in a whole new ballgame, albeit one that looks as though it might have legs. But there’s the thing: The Tattooed Girl (St. Martin’s Griffin) actually stands alone, functioning as it does as a collection of writings on and about and even somewhat near Steig Larsson and his phenomenal, posthumously published series. The contributors here are either connected with the author and/or his work or have strong opinions on some aspects of, as the subtitle states, “The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time.” From the Introduction:
Other unique insights and thought-provoking sidelights await you, from commentaries about the efforts to turn The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into a Hollywood Film (premiering in December 2011), to an interview with the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, to a talk with the real-life champion boxer, Paolo Roberto, who, after Larsson’s death, suddenly discovered himself a character in the novels.
Do you need to know any of this stuff? Probably not. But if you are one of those fans who can’t get enough and really wish there was more to look forward to, this might sate your appetite. For a moment. Let’s face it: whatever you think of his series, Larsson didn’t create it by being derivative. ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.



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