"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me
Stieg Larsson is a modern heroic figure whose life deserves a thorough look. This book reveals some of the reasons why that may not be possible anytime soon, and why even in progressive countries like Sweden, the wheels of justice, finance and women's rights still turn slowly --- very slowly.
"Gabrielsson's book has already caused a stir.... Wherever one reads about Larsson in the future, one will know that Eva Gabrielsson was his lover."
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 theMillennium 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 on July 20, 2011