"There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me Hardcover – Jun 21 2011
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"Fans of [Stieg Larsson's] books looking for an intimate peek into the life of a man who summoned a dark scary version of Sweden will not be disappointed. The book is a short, highly emotional tour through a widow's grief and dispossession, and the details of the couple's life together are jarringly juxtaposed with blood feuds and score-settling. People wtih an adjacency to fame often try to glom onto a piece of it, but Gabrielsson is up to something more ambitious and personal"
—New York Times Book Review
"In this candid, moving work, Gabrielsson chronicles her life's journey with her longtime companion, Stieg Larsson, the Swedish creator of the Millennium trilogy who died suddenly at age 50, in 2004, before the first volume of his phenomenally successful work (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in English) was even published. Much of their political engagement and feminism is reflected in the Millennium books, the writing of which developed much later in Larsson's career--as Gabrielsson, evidently the person who understood him as few did, warmly, lovingly depicts in this spirited defense of their relationship."
"You learn a lot about [Stieg Larsson's] fight against neo-Nazis but nothing about life behind the bedroom door, which is kind of refreshing... if you are obsessed with Larsson's writing, not the man, dig in."
"Gabrielsson does recall her personal life with Larsson: the prosaic details of their devotion to coffee, and the bigger picture of their shared political passions (Trotskyism, anti-racism, feminism). "There Are Things" is a sad tome, about a tragic loss compounded by betrayal, exploitation and greed."
—Los Angeles Times
"[Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson] seemed to have everything in common, from their love of coffee and science fiction to their commitment to activism against racism and in support of women's rights. The couple's mutual passion for these causes is reflected on every page of the Millennium Trilogy..."
"...provides stunning, strong explications of Larsson’s ideologies, most notably his feminism... As a legal drama, it’s compelling. As a story of two lives entwined, for three decades of working toward something that was never shared, it’s even more."
—The Globe and Mail
"Gabrielsson's memoir is full of vignettes of Larsson's life, from his childhood to their time together in social and political struggles. Fans of his novel will delight in the reasons why he chose details for his fiction."
—The Winnipeg Free Press
“For the millions of readers and filmgoers who’ve been hooked by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its trilogy, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me is a book not to be missed. Eva Gabrielsson, his life partner, tells us the reasons he was able to see the world through female eyes, his punishment for challenging a form of injustice still thought of as inevitable, and the aftermath of a success he didn’t live to see.”
“She describes their life together in moving detail, and in so doing, begins to stake her claim as the Millennium saga’s rightful heir. … And not only is she Stieg, but—wronged by an unjust, patriarchal society—she is Salander. Fans can now root for Gabrielsson, too, just as we have for Larsson’s heroine.”
—SASHA WATSON in Slate
“A simple and engaging book.”
“Ms. Gabrielsson puts Larsson’s often chaotic life into context.”
—The Independent (London)
“Gabrielsson speaks plainly and a powerful tale unfolds. “There Are Things I Want You to Know” is a remarkable achievement.”
—BEVERLY GOLOGORSKY, author of The Things We Do to Make It Home
About the Author
EVA GABRIELSSON is an architect, author, and political activist. As part of her architectural practice, she has led a European Union initiative to create sustainable architecture in the Dalecarlia region in Central Sweden. Gabrielsson is the coauthor of several books, including a monograph on the subject of cohabitation in Sweden, a government study on sustainable housing, and a forthcoming study on the Swedish urban planner Per Olof Hallman. She has also translated into Swedish Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson met in 1972, when they were both eighteen, and lived and wrote together from 1974 until his death in 2004. Their struggle together for social justice was the basis for the books in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Gabrielsson lives in Stockholm.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Remarkably objective and straightforward for most of the book, Gabrielsson describes Larsson's early life in the remote north of Sweden, where he lived with his grandparents from infancy until the age of nine, absorbing his grandfather's stories and pacifist political views. After his grandfather's death, Larsson rejoined his mother and father in the city, six hundred miles to the south. Though Larsson felt comfortable with his mother, he never formed a strong bond with his father or younger brother, according to Gabrielsson. In 1972, just after his eighteenth birthday, he met nineteen-year-old Eva at a rally in support of the Front National de Liberation in Vietnam (FLN), a Trotskyite group. Soul-mates, she says, they simultaneously supported communist causes and a strict, old-fashioned morality, believing in justice but also in vengeance. Later, when Larsson began to write for a series of newspapers, he was a crusader for human rights for those suffering from discrimination, and often received death threats, especially from neo-Nazis.
Gabrielsson does not really tell much about their lives together, except within the context of their shared beliefs, and neither of them truly comes alive here. Gabrielsson's descriptions of her grief at his sudden death certainly ring true, but much of this grief was also connected to their devotion to causes, some of which began to languish after his death. She is passionate about what she regards as the complete violation of Larsson's wishes after his death--that the profits from his books should serve causes in which he so strongly believed, not personal greed. Despite her obvious grief, Gabrielsson still comes across as rather cold, single-minded, and uncompromising about all aspects of Larsson's legacy. Though his father and brother have been incredibly selfish, to say the least, she sometimes seems equally tunnel-visioned, equally close-minded. And as the wrangling between Gabrielsson and the Larssons plays out, I cannot not help feeling that parts of this saga have been left out.
Does Gabrielsson, in fact, really hold the "ace" in this high-stakes game of Larsson's legacy--the mysterious computer with an outline and part of a fourth book? That is never clear. Though she says the computer was returned to Expo magazine the day Larsson died, Expo denies that they have it. She has also said that she is determined that the fourth book, if it exists, not be completed--she wants no ghost writers involved. Gabrielsson's own co-writer, Marie-Francoise Colombani, says in the Foreword, however, that if Eva's request for legal control of Larsson's literary estate is granted, that "she will clear up the mystery shrouding the fourth novel," then adds, "Let [her enemies] tremble...Eva, tempered in the fires of adversity, is poised to write the final words of their fate and lead a dance on their graves." You decide. Mary Whipple
Gabrielsson does indeed describe places and people, both fictional and real,which are mentioned in Larsson's works.....but with what I found to be far too much of her life and career, rather than that of Stieg Larsson, included.
I am a huge fan of Larsson's work and after hearing an interview with the his long time companion on a public radio station, I bought this memoir . I was hoping for more about Larsson and all those "things" promised by Gabrielsson. I was able to finish this uneven memoir in spite of overly lengthy passages but it was often a tedious task.
This book primarily focuses on these themes:
1. Gabrielsson was Larsson's lover,with a relationship that spanned over 30 years. Unfortunately, the couple never married nor did they have children. After Larsson's death, Gabrielsson was not able to retain the rights to make business or other decisions concerning his works ( a cautionary message for writers who haven't made legal arrangements for their literary estate, including their written books,articles,letters,memoirs,etc).
2. Gabrielsson is unhappy that Larsson's brother had not acted in accordance with Larsson's values and probable wishes when it comes to his novels. She describes the two brothers' relationship as cold and distant and relates events which support her points. Letters from friends and acquaintances who knew Larsson and Gabrielsson help bolster her claims.
3. After Larsson's death,Gabrielsson was cut off by the brother. I don't want to trivialize Gabrielsson's pain. The loss of her lover as well as the right to honor him and his works seems very unjust. But these points are agonizingly belabored when they could have been summed up rather quickly. Instead, the work often seems aimed at defending Gabrielsson rather than providing lively accounts of Larsson's life.
4. Gabrielsson describes how many of the plot details in Larsson's books come from the couple's travels and experiences. Diehard
fans may find this information intriguing,but only if they are interested in the even the tiniest of details of Larsson's life ( who did the
laundry,who washed the dishes,etc). I did find the history of Larsson's political views helpful in understanding key parts of the novels. But it takes patience to get to the gems of info buried beneath the defensive and even strident tone in the book.
Bottom line? If you want to know more about Larsson's daily life, his political activities, and relationships, you could find this well worth reading. For me, it was very slow going.
This as-told-to memoir from Larsson's partner will no doubt be of interest to his many fans who have devoured every word of the Millennium Trilogy, a twisting mystery series whose anti-heroine is an avenging feminist angel rather like Larsson, and whose Sancho Panza is a determined investigator rather like Larsson. In his youth Larsson witnessed a gang rape, and the guilt and sense of responsibility engendered in him by his failure to intervene may have been the first stirring of what would later become the literary triad that has made him a household name among followers of the genre.
For nearly 30 years of Larsson's short life (he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2008 at the age of 50), Eve Gabrielsson was his live-in lover and close companion. Her many small details of his childhood and his work as a journalistic crusader will be cherished, and we sense there would be more to come...if....
Despite his brilliance, and his devotion to big causes (the most prominent of which was a constant battle against right-wing racist influences in his native Sweden and beyond), Larsson was not well organized and was such a one-man show that no one realized it until it was too late. He meant to marry Gabrielsson, she asserts, but one barrier was his justifiable worry that if his enemies on the right knew about her, they would hunt, harass and possibly harm her to get to him. But the failure to have the ceremony has left Gabrielsson bereft now, not just of the man she loved, but of property, including the future intellectual property that rightly could have been hers.
Larsson's fourth novel, a follow-up to the trilogy, is stored on a computer locked in a safe that belongs to Gabrielsson. But she can't or won't open it because, by inheritance law, Larsson's brother and father would then own rights to the book, which may be as much as half finished. Gabrielsson believes she is the only person qualified to complete that book, and she wants the chance. So "THERE ARE THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW" ABOUT STIEG LARSSON AND ME is largely about why she deserves that chance. For this reason, it is both fascinating and flawed, much like the great Larsson himself. Readers will sympathize, even empathize, with Gabrielsson's struggles against the legal system and the apparently implacable family who have become enormously wealthy through publication of the Larsson books and the inevitable spin-offs. But they may wonder why she didn't accept some $3.3 million for the unfinished book. And, since she created this book with the assistance of a ghostwriter (Gabrielsson is an architect, not a writer), how she would complete one Larsson novel, much less two or three more that she alludes to as being in outline form?
Gabrielsson tells the world that this is about intellectual property rights, and nothing else, and has nobly refused cold cash. But it's hard to ignore the notion that she may also wish to exact some sort of public vengeance. This is supported by the fact that she describes in detail her catharsis at composing what is called a nið, a poem of revenge against one's enemies. And she ends her book with the Latin fiat justitia, pereat mundus: Let justice be done, though all the world perish.
Gabrielsson's book has already caused a stir; in it, she speaks of errors about Larsson on Wikipedia, and one notes that they have been corrected now. Wherever one reads about Larsson in the future, one will know that Eva Gabrielsson was his lover. This is a credit to her persistence. It remains to be seen how she will ultimately fare in her continued struggle against laws that bar unmarried partners from inheritance. Certainly Larsson's fans would like to see a conclusion that brings the fourth book, and possibly others, into print. That would be the brightest outcome.
--- Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
Gabrielsson definitely has an axe to grind with Larsson's father and brother, and she spends quite a bit of time at the end talking about the issue of the inheritance and rights to Larsson's literary legacy. It's a damn shame that there aren't laws in Sweden (and parts of the U.S.) to protect common-law partners to give them such rights. It made me think that we should ensure that laws are on the books to protect such folks, be they straight or gay. A 30 years partner should have more rights than estranged family members.
For me the book was worth it just to hear her talk about coffee. I loved how in the trilogy they were always enjoying coffee socially which was at one time how folks in the U.S. invited visitors into their homes - percolator on the stove at the ready (e.g. our 93 year old Aunt Teresa). I also was entranced by the spell Eva cast on Larsson's enemies. Pretty medieval and interesting stuff. Stieg had integrity and didn't put up with BS and Eva seems to be the same. If his family is as greedy and selfish as they sound, it'll come around in the end.
If you want to learn about Steig Larsson, this is not the book to read. Try Kurdo Baksi's book Stieg Larsson: Our Days in Stockholm, which, while also short, provides more context than this one.
Ganrielsson's book provides background on Larsson's family and childhood. She mentions his work in Africa and their trip to Grenada. Larsson's death, funeral and burial are described. Another value to his book is in naming the series' characters based on and named for real people and how places, plots and images match real life. Interestingly, Kurdo Baksi, Larsson's business partner, who appears in the final volume, gets merely a mention (if it is him, the spelling is changed) in a different context.
The Baksi book provides more insight as to Larsson's professional life and how he coped as a stalked target and recipient of baskets of hate mail. He arrived late for appointments, took unusual routes and transport exits. Baksi writes of Larsson's work commitments and political work such that the appearance of these novels was a surprise and suggested a grueling schedule. With breakfast out, and fast food for dinner it seems there is little time for a life with Eva.
The final part of the book is about Gabrielsson's grief and legal problems. The trilogy has huge earnings and potential earnings. Larsson's estranged father and brother have wound up with the legal rights to it. At times, Gabrielsson's victim righteousness was off putting, but that these two multimillionaires could not give her Larsson's half of their 600 SF apartment is telling.
For the sake of not just Gabrielsson, but also the reader fans, these parties need to come together so that the final book of the series can be forthcoming. She is not asking for the fortune, but control is obviously something they do not want to give up.