Stieg Larsson's Emails: How He Flouted Convention

Late author purposely defied usual rules of the crime novel genre
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2010 9:27 AM CST
Stieg Larsson's Emails: How He Flouted Convention
The cover for "The Girl Who Played With Fire," by Stieg Larsson.   (AP Photo/Knopf)

Swedish author Stieg Larsson died at age 50 before witnessing the phenomenal success of his Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Today, the Wall Street Journal has emails from Larsson to his editor about his goal of writing books that flouted convention. (No spoilers here, but the full article has one or two.) Samples:

  • "I have gone out of my way to avoid the usual approach adopted in crime novels. I have used some techniques that are normally outlawed—the presentation of Mikael Blomkvist, for instance, is based exclusively on the personal case study made by Lisbeth Salander."
  • "I abhor crime novels in which the main character can behave however he or she pleases, or do things that normal people do not do without those actions having social consequences. If Mikael Blomkvist shoots somebody with a pistol, even in self-defense, he will end up in the dock."

  • "I have tried to create main characters who are drastically different from the types who generally appear in crime novels. ... I have also deliberately changed the sex roles: In many ways Blomkvist acts like a typical 'bimbo,' while Lisbeth Salander has stereotypical 'male' characteristics and values.
  • "Hmm. I cannot be sure, but I have the impression that you Norstedts people are seriously enthusiastic about my books. O.K., I know they are not bad, and of course I am delighted to read such flattering judgments: but I hope that you are not, for whatever reason, holding back negative comments. I am perfectly capable of coping with criticism."
Click here to see the full emails.
(Read more Stieg Larsson stories.)

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