The offices of “Expo” annual are on the top attic of a seven-story appointment architectonics in the drab, accepted adjacency of Fridhemsplan. It is a gray architectonics on a gray ancillary artery in a gray allotment of Stockholm. That’s why Stieg Larsson chose it. In the decade aback he co-founded the anti-racist magazine, he and his agents had been stalked, their printer’s appointment had been vandalized, and badge had baldheaded photographs of Larsson and his adherent in the control of a agitated neo-Nazi group. He bare a area that could not be calmly found. The name Expo does not arise anywhere in the lobby. Abutting to the buzzer for the seventh attic there is a distinct name: “Larsson.”
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On the afternoon of November 9th, 2004, Larsson and a acquaintance entered the lobby. As usual, he was in a rush. He had to accomplishment the abutting activity of Expo and had a borderline looming for a abbreviate book about the acceleration of neo-Nazis in Sweden. And he had afresh accustomed account that would change his life: A leash of ballsy abomination novels that he had accounting in a frantic, two-year admission had aloof awash to a publisher, and yesterday, he had met with a ambassador about the achievability of a blur deal. The books, which Larsson declared the Millennium series, were a amalgam of animal fantasy and political-crime thriller, featuring an analytic announcer and an affectless, horny, cyberpunk hacker alleged Lisbeth Salander. Salander, who has a dragon boom on her accept and dozens of piercings, is acquiescently declared in the books as “a babe who looks as if she’s about entered adolescence and who’s beneath than bristles anxiety tall.” She has near-magical powers: She survives barbarous animal violence, a absolute gunshot to the arch and baleful prose. “In a time of abundant danger,” Larsson had written, she charcoal “cool, calm and collected.”
This commodity appeared in the December 23, 2010 activity of Rolling Stone. The activity is accessible now in the online archive.
Larsson himself was annihilation but calm. Today he was alike paler than normal, and indisposition had carved aphotic curve beneath his eyes. He never exercised, animate on a diet of arctic pizzas, fast-food amount commons and cigarettes — he smoked as abounding as 60 a day.
“You don’t accessory well,” his acquaintance remarked.
Larsson jabbed the button for the elevator, but it wouldn’t come. “I don’t accept time for this,” he said. He headed for the stairs.
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By the seventh attic he was afraid heavily and gasping. As he angled into a armchair by the ample appointment table in Expo’s office, the magazine’s photo editor rushed over to see whether he was OK. Larsson put his duke on his heart. He couldn’t speak.
“Stieg, I’m here,” said the photo editor. “We’re demography affliction of this. Hang on.”
Larsson appeared to apprehend him. But afresh he collapsed, his arch falling on the table.
By the time the paramedics arrived, the elevator was working. They put an oxygen affectation over Larsson’s aperture and agitated him into an ambulance.
“How old is he?” asked one of the paramedics.
“I’m 50, corruption it,” Larsson said through the mask.
He wasn’t adage that he was too adolescent to die, or too adolescent to accept a affection attack. What he meant was: I don’t accept time for this.
Photos: Random Notes
Larsson dreamed of acceptable a biographer — he told agnostic accompany that his novels were his “retirement fund” — but alike he couldn’t accept accepted that The Babe With the Dragon Boom and its two sequels would accomplish him the bestselling columnist in the world. The books accept now awash 48¬†million copies internationally, in 46 countries. In the U.S., the leash awash added than 13 actor copies this year abandoned — about according to the sales of contempo books by John Grisham, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King combined. Larsson has outsold Paddington Bear, Anne Frank and Roget’s Thesaurus.
In the process, Larsson himself has entered into the branch of mythology, the tales about him accretion in absurdity in absolute alternation to his sales. There are belief about his declared claiming at the easily of military-intelligence agents and about his Elvis-like abhorrence to medical professionals (he consulted an African witch doctor, claims one friend). There are accuse that he didn’t abode the books at all, that he was berserk by Nazis, that he didn’t absolutely die of a affection beforehand but apish his own afterlife and is now in hiding. There are rumors about a fourth, abstruse Millennium book (Larsson’s adherent says it exists but that it would be like “trying to accomplishment a Picasso” and says she will never acquiesce it to be published). And there are agrarian speculations about the declared actuality of a real-life Lisbeth Salander, a archetypal for the superhero of the novels. So far, at atomic bristles candidates accept been named, one of them a man.
Larsson’s acreage has meanwhile become affected in a abiding accessible chance that has alveolate his adherent of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, adjoin Larsson’s family. Because Larsson never alive a will, and never affiliated Gabrielsson, his after affluence has been affiliated by his brother and father. The Larssons offered Gabrielsson $2.6 million; she banned it. It’s not absolutely bright what she wants. “I anticipate Eva wants to be a victim,” says Joakim, Stieg’s brother. “We feel apologetic for that. It’s sad, you know.” Erland, Stieg’s father, adds: “It’s a way to get bodies to benevolence her and adulation her.”
The agitation over the money has captivated the Swedish press, with both abandon advancing off badly. The ancestors has spent about none of Larsson’s money. Joakim draws a bacon of about $3,500 a month, and the alone apparent adumbration Erland gives of abundance are the amber suede gloves he wears aback alive his Kia, but they accept been demonized for excluding Gabrielsson. “In Sweden, we are apparent as greedy, barbarous relatives,” says Erland. “We accept a actual bad reputation.” Gabrielsson, for her part, has chock-full giving interviews. “I am done with agitation things about Stieg, about me and what happened afterwards he died,” she e-mails me. “Therefore, I accept accounting a book about it, and I achievement that will be the end of all lies and speculations.” The book comes out in France, one of Larsson’s better markets, in January.
Larsson’s hometown of Umeå is an animal university burghal on the Gulf of Bothnia, 400 afar arctic of Stockholm. In the Sixties and Seventies, burghal planners absitively to alter Umeå’s old barrio with the bargain accurate architectonics accepted at the time; the aftereffect is that the city, admitting actuality anchored abreast a arresting amplitude of Baltic coastline, bears a annoying affinity to Danbury, Connecticut. Stieg Larsson spent abundant of his adolescence here, and his brother and ancestor accept guests in an appointment esplanade in the boilerplate of town, area they allotment a baby accommodation blandly outfitted with functional, minimalistic furniture. It’s cryptic what assignment is done actuality besides interviews.
Like all avant-garde mythologies, the apple of Stieg Larsson has additionally become an industry. His family, his editors and his above co-workers now absorb abundant of their time speaking with the array of journalists who appear to Sweden acquisitive to break the assorted mysteries surrounding the columnist and his books. “I’m absolutely exhausted,” says Larsson’s editor, Eva Gedin, who has patiently accustomed interviews to hundreds of journalists. “It can’t go on like this. It’s been interesting, but it has taken a lot of my time.”
Anna-Lena Lodenius, who co-wrote a book on the acute appropriate with Larsson, says, “I generally anticipate that afterwards I die, all I’ll be remembered for is that I knew Stieg Larsson.”
For Kurdo Baksi, a above administrator of Expo whom Larsson declared his “kid brother,” talking about his acquaintance has become a full-time job. He’s the aboriginal actuality to broadcast a account about Larsson (Stieg Larsson: Our Days in Stockholm), and he sits for an boilerplate of 20 interviews a week, sometimes traveling abroad for columnist conferences, blur screenings and seminars. “I anticipate he would do the aforementioned activity for me if he were alive,” says Baksi. “I mean, if I had died, appear three books, and was very, actual famous.”
Like those who preceded me, I accommodated with all of the bodies who were abutting to Larsson. I accept accurately to their stories, charting the fluctuations amid well-rehearsed boilerplate and abandoned fabulation. But it is alone aback I accommodated Therese Larsson, Stieg’s 26-year-old niece, that things activate to accomplish sense. Her uncle’s afterlife was adverse to her, and alfresco of a brace of bounded Swedish newspapers, she has abhorred speaking to the press. But she has been added abashed by the fabulous actuality that Stieg has become. “What I apprehend in the cardboard — that’s not him,” she says in her father’s office. “That’s not Stieg.”
As she speaks, the blubbery curtains of Larsson Industries part, and a man emerges. His story, as it turns out, is far stranger, and sadder, than myth.
Larsson was not an alone child, but for abundant of his childhood, he lived like one. His parents met as teenagers at an alfresco ball in the summer of 1953 in Skellefteå, a baby burghal 500 afar arctic of Stockholm. Erland was on leave from the military. Vivianne was the babe of a blue-collar worker. The after year, Karl Stig-Erland Larsson was built-in in Skelleftehamn, citizenry 3,000. Aback Stieg was still an infant, Vivianne and Erland confused to Stockholm in the achievement of award jobs. They larboard their son abaft with Vivianne’s parents.
Larsson grew up in Bjursele, a apple of alone 60 people. Larsson writes in The Babe With the Dragon Boom that “Bjursele was like a affiche for the Västerbotten country village. It consisted of about 20 houses set almost abutting calm in a semicircle at one end of a lake… At the acme of summer, it was as appealing as a postcard.”
As a boy, Stieg lived in his grandparents’ cottage in the woods. At the time, an old Swedish law was still in aftereffect that barred accouchement from accessory academy until they were seven. Accounting a aeon earlier, the law was advised to assure little boys and girls from actuality devoured by wolves while walking through the backwoods on the way to school. So Stieg grew up amidst by forest, with no school, no television — alone books. He admired detective stories, abnormally Astrid Lindgren’s alternation about the boy detective Kalle Blomkvist, and Sivar Ahlrud’s Tvillingdetektiverna, “twin detectives” who were a Swedish agnate to the Hardy Boys. His grandfathering Severin was additionally a antecedent of connected fascination: He had adjoin the Nazis during Apple War II and was a constant communist; Stieg would afterwards broadcast political tracts in Trotskyite publications beneath the pen name “Severin.”
Stieg anon began authoritative up his own stories. Aback his parents and his adolescent brother, Joakim, visited at Christmas, the two accouchement would comedy in the woods, and at night, Stieg would characterize busy tales about a boy detective alleged Joakim Larsson, with titles like “The Mystery of the Analgesic in the Abutting House.” “I aloof admired to accept to him,” says Joakim. “If the belief were accurate or false, it didn’t matter.”
When Stieg was eight, Severin died, and he confused with his grandmother to Umeå, area the blow of the ancestors had settled. His parents both activate assignment in a dress shop, and his mother won a coffer on the burghal council; his ancestor afterwards formed as an illustrator for the bounded newspaper. In their tiny one-bedroom apartment, Stieg’s grandmother took the sofa, while Stieg and Joakim had a applesauce bed. Their parents slept in the hall, on the floor. Stieg, abashed by this about-face and Severin’s death, aloof into his fantasies. One day, he handed his ancestor his aboriginal abbreviate story. It was about two boy detectives, Jack and John, who break mysteries in America — in a abroad boondocks that bore a arresting affinity to Umeå. “I could admit every stone, every tree, the lake,” Erland says now, still addled by his son’s abilities. Anon after, his parents afraid Stieg with a gift: his aboriginal typewriter.
In his teens, Larsson founded two science-fiction fanzines, accidental stories, accessories and illustrations. As a anatomy of payment, readers could accelerate in belief or abode a letter to the editor. The barrier amid science fiction and backroom has consistently been permeable, but this was the Seventies, and the Swedish adolescence movement had accomplished a accompaniment of agitated urgency. The annual consistently accustomed belletrist from adolescent leftists. There was one exception: a science-fiction fan alleged Lars-Göran Hedengård, who foolishly dedicated Nixon and accurate the Vietnam War.
Larsson could not let these comments angle unchallenged. The annual anon became bedeviled by his responses to Hedengård’s letters. Hedengård, it became clear, was alive in the pro-fascist movement. Larsson was acquainted of abhorrence groups in Sweden, but he was afraid that their associates was actuality active with bodies of his own generation. He bent to Expose aggregate he could apprentice about these people, abounding of whom operated in secrecy. He would become a detective.
Rejected by the Stockholm Academy of Journalism and clumsy to get a job as a reporter, Larsson autonomous for the accustomed tactic of ambitious journalists: If a bi-weekly wouldn’t accelerate him to awning a story, he’d acquisition the chance himself. He headed to Africa, attractive for chance — benumbed buses through Algeria, Morocco and Kenya. On a cruise to Ethiopia, he met associates of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, a Marxist agitator group, and afterwards told accompany he accomplished a aggregation of changeable soldiers to use armament launchers — a chance he camp over the years. His better alarm — besides application malaria and developing a branch botheration — occurred in Addis Ababa. A changeable backpacker from New Zealand, whom Larsson had met on a bus, told military-intelligence admiral at the British Admiral that Larsson knew what affectionate of weapons the Ethiopian rebels had. He was best up but banned to acknowledgment any questions. Though he afterwards declared the airing aback from the admiral through war-torn Addis Ababa as a harrowing, life-threatening affair, he alternate to his auberge afterwards added incident.
Throughout his African travels, he wrote accessories from the front, but editors in Sweden weren’t interested. He came aback home bankrupt and malarial, and was affected to booty a job loading bales at the Stockholm column office. A affectionate acquaintance assuredly took benevolence on him and wrangled Larsson a typist position at Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, the Swedish agnate of the Associated Press. He took to calling himself a reporter, but accompany knew he was bluffing. “If you accede all the years Stieg formed at TT,” Kurdo Baksi writes in his memoir, “he wrote analogously few accessories of any length.” Over the abutting 20 years, Larsson is accustomed with autograph alone 25 pieces, abounding of them reviews of abomination novels. Bristles were interviews with the beat lath he afterwards set up at Expo — interviews, in essence, with himself.
Larsson acquainted like he had article to prove and was affronted that his one-man cause adjoin bigotry was actuality abundantly abandoned — but he was unrelenting. “Stieg artlessly couldn’t advice himself,” says Baksi. “The moment he sat bottomward at a computer, he took sides.”
As Larsson struggled to authorize himself as a journalist, his attraction with the acute appropriate grew added rabid. He calm every journal, announcement and allotment of accord from extremists he could find. The abstraction for an annal came to him afterwards account Frederick Forysth’s abstruseness The Odessa File — an analytic announcer uncovers an annal of advice about a abstruse all-embracing Nazi organization, which he attempts to admission as an clandestine agent. Larsson became a contributor for the British anti-racism account Searchlight. Then, in 1991, he had his aboriginal absolute break: Extremhögern (“The Acute Right”), an all-embracing history he co-wrote archetype the acceleration of far-right groups, surpassed all sales expectations. Over 10 years, it awash some 6,000 copies.
But Larsson was still frustrated. He was blame 40, and his journalism career was faltering. He had confused on from his typist duties at TT — he now advised the cartoon that ran alongside accessories — but editors still weren’t giving him the autograph assignments he craved. It wasn’t because of any abridgement of intensity, however. Aback he would go out for drinks afterwards work, he had little backbone for baby talk, aggravating to beacon the chat to issues of substance. If addition discussed a accountable he didn’t apperceive about — flowers frequently activate in Uppsala, say, or Amazon warriors — he would go home that night and analysis it online, afresh actualization up the abutting morning at his colleague’s desk, reciting facts that approved his knowledge. Did they apperceive that the Latin name for the white, heatherlike annual was Leptospermum rubinette? Or that the Greeks coined the appellation “Amazon”?
“He was an autodidact and had an acute faculty of ability about all kinds of altered subjects,” says Robert Aschberg, a television host and columnist who serves as Expo’s publisher. “Information was like a biologic for him: He had to apperceive everything.”
Yet Larsson couldn’t accompany himself to leave TT. He took pride in animate for the account bureau — and he bare the salary. He rarely acclimated banks, befitting all of his money in his wallet and advantageous bills with banknote at the column office. His ancestor apprenticed him to alpha cerebration of himself: “Write article commercial,” Erland would acquaint him in his loud, stentorian voice. Remembering his son’s affection for Astrid Lindgren, he appropriate that Stieg try his duke at children’s literature.
In a way, Larsson already had. For some time, he had formed on his own adaptation of Sivar Ahlrud’s Tvillingdetektiverna books, in which the boy detectives were now adults and had to break austere crimes. But it didn’t work, and he threw it away. The alone way forward, he concluded, was to alpha his own publication, as he had done in Umeå with his fanzines. There was no catechism about what its accountable would be. By the aboriginal Nineties, neo-Nazi groups were captivation protests in the street, in abounding regalia, and Stockholm’s immigrant citizenry was actuality abashed by a consecutive analgesic accepted as the Laser Man. The accountable of Larsson’s cabalistic attraction — a splintered bourgeois agitator movement in a country that had been disqualified for best of the aeon by a advocate government — had aback become the above chance of his time.
The admission activity of Expo appeared in August 1995, with the declared ambition of belief and analysis “anti-democratic, bourgeois agitator and racist tendencies in Swedish society.” The aboriginal issues didn’t allure abundant attention. But the annual was noticed by the alone constituency that mattered: Nazis. The printer’s appointment was vandalized, and newsstands accustomed the annual had their windows burst and their walls spray-painted with the message: Don’t Print Expo!
It was the best activity that could accept happened to a apprentice analytic magazine. The abandon admiring above absorption in the columnist — it became accepted as “the Expo affair” — and Sweden’s two better atramentous newspapers accordingly appear a appropriate copy of Expo. The annual never had added than 1,000 subscribers in Larsson’s lifetime and consistently absent money, but its articulation was heard.
Even afore the barrage of Expo, Larsson afraid about the threats adjoin him. He had installed a vaultlike fireproof aperture in his home and afflicted his accepted circadian — activity to and from assignment at odd hours and demography altered routes home. His accompany didn’t apperceive what to accomplish of his accretion vigilance. Were the threats adjoin him legitimate? Or was it allotment of his self-dramatizing act as an analytic journalist?
Then article happened that justified Larsson’s best batty theories. One afternoon the buzz rang at his board at TT. The caller’s articulation was abnormally cheerful.
“Someone will annihilate you today,” he said. Afresh the band went dead.
Larsson went to the window. On a coffer beyond the artery sat a man with a ample bag. He was watching the building’s entrance, as if he was cat-and-mouse for someone.
Larsson knew the badge wouldn’t accept his chance and that they would accept no area to aces up a man sitting affably on a bench. Larsson could leave by the aback door, but the man ability acknowledgment the abutting day, and the one afterwards that.
He declared the police.
“There will be a coffer robbery this afternoon,” Larsson told them. “The bandit is currently sitting on a coffer in advanced of Kungsholmstorg 5.”
“Who is this? Area are you calling from?” Larsson afraid up.
Minutes later, a badge car pulled up in advanced of the office. The man was apprehended, his bag was checked. It independent several guns. Larsson took the aback aperture out and ran home.
‘Expo” was bad for his health. The appointment was a brume of smoke, the tables blowzy with cigarette stubs amphibian in half-full coffee mugs and mayonnaise-smeared sandwich wrappers from fast-food joints. (Larsson’s banquet of best was a McFeast & Co., the Swedish agnate of a Quarter Pounder amount meal — alone instead of a Coke he ordered accomplished milk.) He was in the appointment every night afterwards abrogation TT, and all weekend. He drank atrocious quantities of bargain coffee and suffered from insomnia. He begged accompany for funding, conducted analysis and accomplished his adolescent staff, some of whom he had recruited as teenagers. The kids adored him; he handed out his e-mail abode freely, and responded to anyone who wrote to him, generally at amazing length. “He was the abundant old man who knew everything,” says Mikael Ekman, who went to assignment at Expo aback he was 19.
The agents admired alert to Larsson’s stories. A few times, he talked about a babe who had been gang-raped by teenagers in the dupe alfresco of Umeå aback he was a kid. He sometimes claimed that the teenagers were his friends, that he was there, continuing by while the abomination unfolded, and that his faculty of answerability had aggressive him to allot his activity to arresting women adjoin violence. Kurdo Baksi argues that this babe was the capital afflatus for Lisbeth Salander; the aboriginal Swedish appellation of The Babe With the Dragon Boom was Män som hatar kvinnor — “Men Who Abhorrence Women.” But Larsson afterwards told a abettor at Expo that he had heard the chance secondhand. For all his accompany knew, he’d fabricated the accomplished activity up.
These embellishments hardly mattered to his admiring staffers. Ekman was fatigued to Expo afterwards account Larsson’s book on the acute appropriate aback he was aloof 15. Aback he noticed that his aerial academy ball had been beat by skinheads, he declared the Expo offices to allege with Larsson, who responded immediately. Afore long, Larsson was auspicious the jailbait to go clandestine as a birthmark in his bounded Nazi adolescence organization. Ekman abutting the Civic Socialist Front, accessory affairs and advertisement his findings. Daniel Poohl, who became editor of Expo afterwards Larsson’s death, additionally began as a boyhood mole, entering a Nazi adolescence journal. He debriefed Larsson, who accomplished him strategies to beforehand his cover. Larsson hadn’t aloof created a magazine. He had created an bureau for boy detectives.
The better burden Larsson acquainted — added than the abhorrence of actuality assaulted by bourgeois zealots or the claiming of publishing a annual with a agents bedeviled by writers and editors in their 20s — was money. Although he was perpetually broke, he gave little anticipation to his own claimed finances. He alone for so continued to banknote the $6,000 beforehand he accustomed for a book about a racist Swedish political affair that he co-wrote with Ekman, the administrator begged Ekman to airing Larsson to the bank.
Larsson was annoyed of annoying about Expo’s future, annoyed of relying on Gabrielsson, an architect, to adapt their finances, annoyed of accustomed his life’s accumulation in the abridged of his jeans. “I’m fed up with accepting to go about with my hat out, allurement for money for Expo,” he complained to a friend. “Nobody cares, cipher gives us any money. I charge a ancient solution.”
His ancestor was right: He bare to abode article commercial.
In 2002, Larsson and Gabrielsson took a vacation to the Stockholm archipelago. He put abreast his assignment for Expo and absitively to try afresh at a novel. There was a growing all-embracing bazaar for Scandinavian abomination fiction, and no one knew added about the brand than he did. In abode of the acceptable detective, he would accept an analytic journalist. This actualization would be the developed adaptation of a accepted children’s detective — alone instead of demography Tvillingdetektiverna as his model, he would use Astrid Lindgren’s brain boy detective, Kalle Blomkvist. He would be an arcadian adaptation of Larsson — a civic celebrity who tells his paramours things like “I’m not activity to apologize for the way I’ve led my life.” (“Going to bed with him,” Larsson writes, “was not aggressive or complicated, but ability be erotically enjoyable.”)
Blomkvist would be a hard-charging anchorman at Millennium, a fantasy adaptation of Expo: “The annual began as a absolute alien . . . its apportionment has developed and today is 21,000 copies monthly.” But Blomkvist would be secondary. The novel’s capital amount would be the developed apotheosis of a altered Lindgren character: Pippi Longstocking.
In Lindgren’s stories, Pippi is a jester and antic — a nine-year-old babe with all-powerful backbone who lives on her own. Larsson, able-bodied acquainted that Lindgren was the bestselling columnist in the history of Swedish literature, afterwards fabricated a point of emphasizing the Pippi Longstocking connection. “What would she be like as an adult?” he wondered in the alone account he gave about his novels afore his death. “What would she be called? A sociopath? Somebody adversity from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder? I fabricated her like Lisbeth Salander, 25 years old, with a ginormous exclusion complex. She knows cipher and has no amusing abilities whatsoever.”
Instead of actuality able with concrete strength, Salander is a hacker magician. With a few keystrokes on her laptop, she can admission every allotment of advice in the world. But the parallels amid Lisbeth Salander and Pippi Longstocking are gestural at best. Aback he approved to explain the capital actualization of his novels to his brother, Larsson accomplished for a afterpiece analogy.
“She’s like Therese,” he said.
When Therese Larsson was growing up, she saw her uncle as a ballsy figure. Whenever he visited from Stockholm he would acquaint her belief about the alarming adventures he had while hitchhiking through Africa, about the time that a assemblage of Nazis had jumped him alfresco of a Stockholm restaurant or the time an apache had waited for him alfresco his office. Aback the belief became too scary, her mother beatific her to bed. But she would edge to the aperture of the active allowance and sit there, alert to the complete of his voice.
Larsson didn’t appointment Umeå generally — he consistently had an alibi about a borderline that bare to be met. But he corresponded consistently with his niece by e-mail, Therese sending abbreviate addendum and accepting what seemed to her like novel-length responses. He was an developed she could admit in, a role archetypal and abecedary who wasn’t a parent, with whom she could altercate activity as a jailbait in Umeå. She accepted that he was honest with her. He disapproved, for instance, aback she told him that she had confused in with her aerial academy boyfriend.
“You’re too young,” he told her. “A babe your age should be application boys like toys.”
“It’s OK,” he said. “You apperceive how to booty affliction of yourself.”
He didn’t accountability her for demography a job as a nurse’s abettor instead of applying to college. And he fabricated no animadversion aback she showed him the ample rose that she had tattooed on her shoulder. That she chose a rose, however, was surprising. Aback she was young, she had generally said that she would get a boom of a dragon.
In the two years Larsson spent autograph his novels, he generally e-mailed Therese to ask her questions about her life: what she anticipation about, what she would do in assertive situations. She told him about her struggles with anorexia and about her affection for kickboxing; she had been demography acquaint aback she was 15. (Before that, she had advised jujitsu for eight years.) He had consistently admired how she dressed as a jailbait — atramentous makeup, atramentous covering jacket, atramentous boots.
“Lisbeth Salander is like you,” Larsson told her. “Soft on the outside, but harder inside.”
When Therese angry 20, she absitively to go with her admirer to Stockholm. She capital to acquaint him to her uncle. They fabricated plans, but at the aftermost minute Larsson had to abolish — he was on deadline. He asked her to delay a little longer, but they had to bolt the even aback to Umeå. He apologized profusely, and they agreed to accomplish affairs to see anniversary added afresh soon. He died two months later.
Therese, now 26, lives with a new boyfriend. She still wears black, but her tastes run added to Björn Borg’s casual-clothing band than to the gothic jailbait advantaged by Lisbeth Salander, and she has let her abbreviate amber beard abound out. She has a ample smile and a low, blithesome laugh, which makes an actualization whenever she talks about her kickboxing class. She’s absolutely accomplished: She knows how to accident a block of copse with her anchor and, she says, how to accident the boys in her class.
Her ancestor encourages her to administer to college, and her accompany animate her to be certified as a registered nurse. But afterwards so abounding bodies abutting to her died — her mother, who died of pancreatic blight three years ago, her uncle, and her ex-boyfriend, who committed suicide — she is blessed to be in a comfortable, safe place, still animate as a nurse’s abettor at the bounded hospital. “I like to booty affliction of bodies and accept bodies about me,” she says.
I ask if she’s anytime tempted to appeal some of her uncle’s money — millions of krona that could be fabricated readily accessible to her, aloof as it is to Salander in the novels.
“I don’t anticipate about it,” she says. “I accept abundant money to buy food. I don’t charge any more.”
Her uncle’s celebrity has put her in odd situations, abnormally aback strangers don’t doubtable she’s accompanying — Larsson is a accepted Swedish surname. One day, while Therese was authoritative her circuit at the hospital, an account with her ancestor and grandfathering came on the television. The host talked about how abounding millions of krona the Larsson ancestors had affiliated from the Millennium trilogy.
“Hey, Therese,” said one of the patients. “What’s your aftermost name?”
“Larsson,” she said.
“Ha! You could be accompanying to him!”
“Yeah,” she said. “I am.”
The patients chuckled and angry aback to the television. Therese took a abysmal animation and went aback to alteration their bedpans.
In the six years aback his death, Stieg Larsson has become what he consistently aspired to be: a bestselling biographer who blends the passions of political journalism with the absurd tales of his youth. “Everyone knows about Stieg Larsson now,” says his editor, Eva Gedin. “He’s a phenomenon, like Abba or Ikea.”
She’s appropriate — but not all of his accompany accept capitalized on Larsson’s brusque fame. Per Jarl was one of Larsson’s abutting accompany and the announcer who got him assassin at TT. He has never announced with a anchorman about his friend.
Jarl couldn’t apprehend the books for several years, afraid it would be like audition a ghost; assuredly he listened to them on CD. He was addled by the added capacity that were anchored in the archetypal conventions of the abomination thriller. In particular, the affected cause that had consistently apprenticed his friend: Larsson’s abhorrence of agitated neo-Nazis — and of all men who subjugate women and acquisition means to corruption them at every turn. “The important thing,” Jarl tells me several times, “is to accept that there is a actual austere activity that Stieg was angry for.”
It’s a windy, gray day, and we are walking in Kungsholmen, not far from Expo’s offices.
Jarl is still abashed by Larsson’s success. “One of your abutting accompany tells you he’s accounting some abomination novels — what are you declared to think?” he says. “Then he dies, and becomes a celebrity. I’m a journalist, I accept how it works — the hype, the bodies authoritative money off him. But it’s bizarre.”
Then, appropriate afore we part, he comes to an brusque arrest in the artery and grabs my shoulder.
“Everybody’s talking about the fourth book,” he says. “Does it exist, what is it about? For me, it’s actual bright what the fourth book is. The fourth book started the day he died: It’s aggregate that’s happened afterward, all this fucking mess, all the rumors.” Jarl all-overs his head.
“We don’t charge a fourth book,” he says. “The fourth book is accident appropriate now.”
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