Tag Archives: Annika Bryn

What (some) men (might) think of women

I’ve been in two minds about whether this blog post should come before tomorrow’s, or after it. It’s also been on my mind for some time, and whereas there was never any doubt about writing it, I have to tread carefully.

While I’m only going to say what’s already in the public domain, that’s not to say people won’t be annoyed. I was intrigued to find that Stieg Larsson’s brother Joakim has set up a website to tell his side of the story. Having long been rather anti-Joakim, I was impressed by what he had to say. He sounds so very reasonable.

But then, of course, that’s how you sway opinion in whatever direction you want it to go. At roundabout the same time Stieg’s friend Annika Bryn was saying how she sometimes talked on the phone with Joakim. Another positive fact. So, I didn’t know what to think. But the fact remains that I heard with my own ears what Larssons senior and junior said in that television programme from a few years ago. You can’t unsay stuff like that, even through the most level headed website.

And then there was the book by Dan Burstein in which Annika was going to write about her friendship with Stieg. Joakim was positive to this. He told her so himself. He was looking forward to reading it. I don’t have all the ins and outs of this, but late in the proceedings Mr Burstein wanted Annika to include her emails from Stieg.

She asked Joakim’s permission. (Now I, personally, wouldn’t have asked, on the grounds that I’d feel those emails were ‘mine’.) When the reply finally came it was a resounding ‘no’.

Again, I don’t know or understand the details, but for some reason it was decided that Annika would no longer contribute to the book about Stieg. Maybe they were only ever after those few emails, and not her version of the friendship.

My own mercenary reaction when hearing this news was to check she at least got paid for all her work. She was paid. And then she gave all the money to charity.

Sara Paretsky’s view of whether or not Annika should contribute in the first place, was that we need more females writing about Stieg. I agree. I doubt that after this I will be sent a copy of the Burstein book to review, but I’d like to see how the balance of the sexes looks.

I gather that Dan Burstein found my earlier blog post, so no doubt he will find this one as well. I may have got facts wrong, but what you can’t alter is that there will be one fewer female contributing.

And I wonder what selfless Joakim will do with the emails he owns the rights to?

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Is the emperor really wearing clothes?

I believe I’ve found a Swedish Martin Amis. He seems to be called Bengt Ohlsson. He’s such a great author that he’s allowed to write ‘not so nice’ things about others in the name of culture and entertainment in a newspaper column. Unlike dear Mr Amis, Bengt didn’t suggest that children’s books are simple to write. He said (and here I get very nervous, because I saw what others didn’t see, and how can I be sure that what I saw is right, when it seems that most people whose opinions I normally value saw the exact opposite?) that nobody much likes the crime novels by Camilla Läckberg. He put her name in the same sentence as Auschwitz. I believe he meant (apparently) that her books are bad, but it’s fine to enjoy bad books. He does so himself, except obviously not the bad books by Camilla.

She got upset, which is so unreasonable because she makes a fortune on those books of hers, and she wrote a reply. That was proof that she’s unable to read (because he really didn’t say what she thought he said), and anyway when you are being bullied in the school playground it’s not the done thing to cry. Stiff upper lips are so much better.

I came across this spat on Annika Bryn’s blog, and immediately clicked on her link to see what witty column Bengt had written, seeing as Annika appreciated it. I read it over and over and at no time did it look like anything but an unpleasant comment. I swallowed my not inconsiderable pride and admitted that like Camilla herself, I had not grasped the ‘real’ meaning of the column either.

Now you see, I have heard of Camilla Läckberg, but have never felt the urge to read her books. But that’s not picking on her. I didn’t know Bengt Ohlsson, however, and admitted it. That was considered strange. He’s a great writer of literary works and he’s won prizes for them. I just feel that in that case his column, even if the topic was above my head and carried connotations unknown to me, should have been an example of good and interesting writing. And I don’t feel it was.

And he was rude. Had he managed the rudeness with flair and wit and intelligence I might have overlooked it. But he didn’t. And why not, if he’s the prize winning type?

Those which sold

‘But do they sell?’ asked the Retired Children’s Librarian in a puzzled sort of way while we chatted on the phone recently. I had thought she’d be interested to hear about Annika Bryn’s contribution to the proposed book about Stieg Larsson. She’s always had an interest in crime, and her heart ought to swell with pride over the Swedish trilogy doing so well across the world.

At first I got confused, thinking she wondered about the sales-worthyness of books about famous people. The penny dropped when I realised she didn’t feel that Stieg’s achievement had been all that great. I assured her he had done quite well in sales. ‘Have you read them?’ was her next question, clearly having forgotten we’d been over this ground before.

This conversation took place when I was virtually sitting there holding the fresh 2010 Nielsen sales figures in my hand, where Stieg’s book was number one. And number two. And number three. But you can only manage that much convincing on the phone so I gave up.

I don’t begrudge anyone on that list their success. (Oh, all right, one or two of them.) I just wish you could find more quality on there. Or is that of necessity an oxymoron?

After the successful crime writer, I only checked the list for children’s books. Stephenie Meyer, naturally. Then The Gruffalo, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I Shall Wear Midnight (yay!), Gruffalo’s Child, more Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson (film tie-in), Thomas the Tank Engine, Magic Ballerina, more Wimpy Kid, and the Beano Annual.

No doubt I’ve missed one  or two.

Surprised to find no Jacqueline Wilson or Francesca Simon.

It’ll be a while before the above books become motorways around the country. I was interested to see Hilary’s (McKay) comment yesterday that she doesn’t mind her own books being turned into roads. Maybe it’s good that we don’t all lose our heads and take in more strays?

Stieg’s friends

Just over a week ago I mentioned that I was in agreement with Sara Paretsky about ‘something’. I’m now able to tell you that it was regarding a book about Stieg Larsson, which will soon hit a bookshop near you. Or perhaps an online one. It is being ‘assembled’ by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, in cooperation with Stieg’s friend John-Henri Holmberg.

They have, sensibly, asked a number of people close to Stieg to write about their own friendships with him, and one such friend is Annika Bryn, crime writer from Stockholm. She was uncertain about joining in the venture, so asked for advice before writing her piece. Sara Paretsky very wisely pointed out it’s important to have female voices in this book, and we both agreed Annika should write her bit.

Here is the link to Annika’s blog, where she describes her feelings about deciding, and as you can see from my translation, Stieg’s partner Eva Gabrielsson doesn’t like the idea of the book, but his brother was keen for Annika to do it.

‘The fourth thing was to decide whether I wanted to write an essay for a future book about Stieg, and if so, to negotiate with the people behind it.

I was uncertain until the last minute, declined once, and asked three wise women for advice – one professor, an American crime writer, and Bookwitch. All three supported me throughout. Thank you! I also tried to speak to Eva Gabrielsson, but couldn’t get hold of her, to let her know I was taking part in the book, and spoke to Joakim Larsson, who thought it would make interesting reading. And for anyone new to this blog who happens to wonder, I’m obviously of the opinion that Eva should inherit her husband Stieg, which Joakim is aware of.

I know Eva is not keen on this book being published at all, but unsure why. Her own book is published in French this month.

The Tattooed Girl

It’s successful writing partners Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, in cooperation with John-Henri Holmberg, an old friend of Stieg’s, who are publishing this book about Stieg, with the help of a lot of other people. It will be out in Germany, England and the US in May, June and July. And it’s for this that I’ve been writing my bit.’

Dan Burstein has previously written a similar book about another Dan B, so I’m guessing he works out who is big and whose name will sell. Annika won’t make a lot of money out of this, but ultimately I feel it’s more important for readers to learn about another side to Stieg, than to count the dollars. Not that it’s my money, or my essay, or my dead friend.

But I’d be interested to see a copy of the book.

Gotland murders

You can’t read this book. Sorry. But my earlier suggestion that people learn Swedish in order to read untranslated Swedish crime is still valid. Annika Bryn, whose blog I have mentioned here before, as well as her friendship with Stieg Larsson, is also a crime writer.

I performed a minor service for Annika a while ago, and she sent me a reward in the shape of her third novel, which I’ve now read. And I honestly don’t know why she isn’t one of the Nordic crime writers filling up British and American bookshops.

Annika’s detective is policewoman Margareta Davidsson, who normally does her detecting in Stockholm. In Morden i Buttle (The Murders in Buttle) she has come to recuperate on Gotland, the large island east of Öland. That may be part of the reason I just couldn’t stop thinking of Johan Theorin while reading. There are other similarities. Annika also has a historical puzzle that somehow is connected to the modern day murders. And there are unspeakable things happening to children.

Annika Bryn, Morden i Buttle

Margareta’s recuperating doesn’t go too well when she finds a dead girl outside her borrowed cottage in the middle of Gotland, in the village of Buttle. She had noticed a man she felt uneasy about on the ferry the previous day, and she’s sure he has something to do with the dead body. The local police don’t believe her theories. And when her Stockholm colleague Kent turns up out of the blue, things get complicated.

There is, as I said, an older mystery too, from the 19th century. A young unmarried mother who died far too early, catches Margareta’s attention. I really would have loved to read about this girl with a less unhappy ending, but then her story wouldn’t have fitted in with Margareta’s new murder victim.

This is a suitably bleak and violent tale to fit in with other recent Scandinavian crime writing. I just wish it would stand a chance of being translated.

Missing Stieg

The fascination with Stieg Larsson won’t come to an end any time soon. Through Annika Bryn‘s blog I’ve just found some more hair raising news about Stieg and the mess he inadvertently left behind, as well as some mysterious happenings on hotmail.

Someone, who presumably suffers from that very Swedish malady – envy – has decided to carve out some fame for himself by telling media that Stieg Larsson was such a poor writer that there is no way he could have written the Millennium novels. So he, who shall remain nameless, has gone on television with his lies and speculation. You’d think that media could show they are not all spineless turncoats, but that seems to be too challenging a task.

Apparently Stieg wrote some very bad news copy thirty years before writing (or not…) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which proves that someone else must have written those novels. (And perhaps ought to be entitled to the money.) Well, Stieg was twenty at the time, and there must be plenty of young men writing rubbish quality news or novels or whatever at that sort of age.

Annika Bryn, as Stieg’s friend, would like to prove that he did indeed write the three books, but was refused the right to take part in the television discussion on the subject. She must have felt which way the wind was turning some time ago, as she started looking at and editing some of the countless long emails she and Stieg exchanged in 2002 and 2003, back in November last year.

With this new theory going public she looked at them again. Or she would have, had they not disappeared from her hotmail. Annika has turned her account inside out and looked in every corner, but no emails, apart from two or three. Interesting coincidence.

She has published one long email on her blog, in which Stieg tells her how tired and stressed he’s feeling, but still goes on to discuss his ideas for the novels, the reasons for the violence, and how marvellous he thinks Lisbeth’s character is. He has lots of plans for her.

As Annika had hoped to do with her email collection, this email alone proves that the Millennium trilogy is Stieg’s work. The style of writing is just the same.

I hope the rest of the emails will surface again, and that they haven’t been cleaned out by hotmail, or hacked by someone. But you never know. If Lisbeth was here, she’d find them!

More on Stieg Larsson’s millions

This week even the Guardian reported on the state of Stieg Larsson’s money. They didn’t have much to say that I haven’t already blogged about, except that Stieg’s father and brother have now offered his partner Eva some money. Of course, neither I nor the Guardian know all that much. We recycle facts and come up with clever guesses as to what’s what.

We’re all guessing, because Stieg can’t tell us a thing. So it makes a change reading this blog post, written by Annika Bryn, who is a Stockholm based crime writer, and who knew Stieg.  I met Annika over on Sara Paretsky’s blog, and she has previously left a comment on Bookwitch saying it’s true that Lisbeth Salander has Asperger Syndrome because Stieg said so.

Stieg Larsson by Britt-Marie Trensmar

This week Annika wrote about her own feelings and ideas as to how all this mess over the Millennium money happened. She says that ethically it should have been Eva who inherited the money, and that it ought to be she who’s in the position to be able to offer the Larsson men 20 million kronor, out of the 130 million total so far, instead of the reverse. Annika says that Eva wasn’t just ‘a part of Stieg’s life’, as his father and brother put it, but he always referred to Eva as his wife, and he felt they had ‘grown together’ and he could never leave her.

Stieg’s brother has said to Annika that the fact there was no will must have meant Stieg didn’t want Eva to inherit him. (But most of us don’t consider our mortality soon enough, do we?) Another thing that is easily forgotten, is that when Stieg died, he had no more money than most people. He didn’t know there’d be millions to fight over. And Annika reckons he also thought the three people in his life would get on better than they do.

She feels that although the offered 20 million is a lot of money, it’s not enough, and that a fifty-fifty share would be the fair way to do it. They should also cooperate over the intellectual property Stieg left behind. She mentions a dispute over the English translation, too. So it seems nothing is easy in this sorry saga. As for anyone finishing the fourth book, Annika reckons this would be wrong, unless it’s practically all finished anyway.

There was a very early will, in which Stieg left his money to a communist organisation. So it doesn’t seem as if he’d intended his father and brother to enjoy whatever he had to leave.

Annika’s blog usually has many, and friendly, comments left by her visitors. This time feelings have run high, and people have left some much more strongly worded comments than usual. Not all are on Eva’s side, and some don’t manage to comment politely, whatever their opinions.