November 6th, 2010

Very well groomed for a crazy person

Knopf is releasing the Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Boxed Set just in time for Christmas. Nice looking unjacketed, clothbound boxed set of Stieg Larsson’s bestsellers. Accompanying the set is a fourth book, On Stieg Larsson, which the publisher was kind enough to send me for review. It contains an essay by one of his former coworkers and another by his editor at Norstedts who discusses how the books came across her desk and her interactions with Larsson as they worked on the first manuscript and prepared it for publication. It’s an interesting insight into the editorial process, supplemented by a reproduction of her e-mail exchanges with Larsson during the editorial process. They continue until the last message from Larsson, written less than two weeks before he died at work.

Larsson was a cooperative and congenial author who encouraged editorial input into his work and only dug in his heels on occasion (he insisted that his original title, Men Who Hate Women, be kept for the Swedish edition). He was well read in the crime genre and was gratified when an early reader noticed that he was attempting different subgenres in each of the three books.

We aren’t often afforded this level of access into the editing process, so I found it fascinating reading. He wanted to know about the mechanics of the process. Would it be done on printouts or electronically. He wondered “how many book pages are a million key strokes” and said he wanted to set up a Millennium website and should he consult the publicists before doing this? His day job is very similar to his protagonists, with issues of his magazine Expo often demanding his immediate attention. “As you know we produce books within four to eight weeks here at Expo; Norstedts ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

The editor’s responses are equally fascinating. “Generally speaking, we start by working on printed-out texts, and then we edit the electronic documents accordingly (but only if the author is prepared to let us have them – some authors insist on making all changes, major and minor, themselves, right through until the final version.)” She also asked all her short, slim acquaintances how much they weighed to arrive at a final statistic for Salander’s weight!

The book ends with two more essays, a biographical piece by one of his long-time friends (they met at a Swedish science fiction convention when Larsson was seventeen), which also provides an interesting overview of Swedish crime fiction and the influence of Sweden’s culture and welfare state mentality on Larsson, an unabashed Trotskyite; and a brief look at the Larsson phenomenon by the publishing editor of Norstedts at the time the books were acquired, including some of the controversy surrounding the disposition of Larsson’s estate. The booklet is only 96 pages long, but fascinating reading.

Currie Graham made a triumphant return to The Mentalist this week. Walter Mashburn was a former murder suspect, a man with too much money and just enough flair to be simultaneously arrogant, charming and cloying. The kind of guy who would call his Lear Jet “Walter’s Jalopy.” You didn’t need to have Patrick Jane’s powers of observation to deduce that Mashburn was hiding something when Patrick visited his hotel room in the final scene. Guess that opens the door for him to show up again, although they gave him something to do for at least the next month. Someone on the show was a Star Trek fan, giving one of the characters the last name “Bajoran.” I liked Mashburn’s suggestion that he hated the murder victim enough that he wanted him alive, rather than dead. Alive and suffering from his crushing defeat. I thought it was a little rash on Lisbon’s part to shoot blindly at a sniper on the grounds of a posh country club. Sure, they were under fire, but she didn’t have a target in sight. Today’s subject line comes from Patrick’s assessment of the whacked out supermodel ex-girlfriend. Cho didn’t get many wisecracks this week. His best effort was in response to the widow, who asked who Patrick was after his quirky questioning. “It’s a long story.” The best parting shot of the episode came from Mashburn. “I can’t believe I was a one-night stand for Dirty Harry.”

Can you imagine what it would be like to be faced with that mountain of shredded evidence on this week’s CSI? It ain’t all glamor, that job, although the expediency of television allowed them to make short work of what would really be a mind-numbingly tedious task. I suspected the mousy secretary from the moment she first appeared, though. She was just too much of a stereotype not to be the culprit. I liked the idea of an ID theft protection company being ID thieves themselves. Poor G-man, trying to get things straightened out. “I’ve never even been to Uzbekistan!”

An interesting twist on Fringe this week. Call it “Amber Alert.” The people encased in amber in the alt universe are still alive and aware, stuck in the last thought that went through their minds before they were trapped. There weren’t many changed details from the alt universe this week. There’s a Nixon Parkway, and Cary Grant starred in The Maltese Falcon, that was all I noticed. I can’t wait to find out what happens once Olivia gets back on the right side of reality. Will she and Faux-livia come face to face?

Originally published at Bev Vincent. You can comment here or there.