Tag Archives: John-Henri Holmberg

and more still

from 2005 in Gothenburg, while I’m carried away and all that. The amazing thing is how many books Son and I managed to fit in before we went, just so we could be up to scratch on all that was talked about. And how many of those he really liked.

Susanna Clarke

These days I have too much to read, and Son has too much of everything, but still – I believe – retains a fondness for Roddy Doyle and Susanna Clarke, whose name I always forget. But Son adored her Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and was so keen to hear her speak that we actually had to go and sit near the front (and you know I don’t do the front), so he could be close enough.

Roddy Doyle

We read The Commitments in preparation for Roddy Doyle even though he was there to talk about his newest book. I don’t think I realised quite what a literary giant he is in Ireland. Just because I’d barely heard of him at the time didn’t mean he wasn’t revered, or famous.

And it’s funny how things come back to you after all these years. I knew full well we’d seen Lee Child, and been thorougly underwhelmed (I know, everyone I admire seems to like him) by him. But that’s not what I meant. When seeing the photographs for the first time in ten years I realised I knew the man next to him, the one who was there to chat; John-Henri Holmberg. He has more recently been involved in all things Stieg Larsson, and only the other week the Resident IT Consultant came home from the library asking me if I had heard of this person who had translated the anthology he’d just borrowed. I had.

John-Henri Holmberg and Lee Child

Fairly certain we didn’t listen to Jeanette Winterson, but only saw her at the signing. Or maybe we did. See how much I ‘know’? It wasn’t the year that Jeanette complained about the dreary events rooms, anyway. That came later.

Jeanette Winterson

I’d not – still haven’t – read the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, but that didn’t stop us from going to hear him chat to Lotta Olsson; the woman who likes what I like, crime and children’s books, and does so for Dagens Nyheter. On departure I had discovered that I did have a Jonathan Stroud book in my possession, so brought Buried Fire along to be signed. I felt somewhat ashamed for popping up bearing an old book and such a decrepit looking one at that.

Jonathan Stroud and Lotta Olsson

But Jonathan was so pleased to see a well read copy of – I think – his first book, that I learned something new. Authors like seeing that people have read their books, and if it’s an older one, it shows you didn’t simply turn up because of an event for some other book, brandishing a pristine copy of it.

So whenever you see me with an old book, blame Jonathan!

The Tattooed Girl

I don’t see why millions shouldn’t flock to read this book, edited by Dan Burstein. Newspapers all over the world are full of articles speculating about everything and anything to do with Stieg Larsson and his Millennium trilogy. Whether or not the people responsible for those articles know very much about Stieg or Sweden is best left out of this discussion. I have read good ones and I have seen some awful ones. Most of them repeat the same few facts over and over.

Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer and John-Henri Holmberg, The Tattooed Girld

In The Tattooed Girl Dan and his co-authors Arne de Keijzer and John-Henri Holmberg have collected many previously published articles as well as pieces written especially for the book. Between them they cover a lot, if not everything, to do with Stieg Larsson, who is unable to put anyone right about what’s true and what isn’t.

I have speculated a lot about this book while it was being written, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how useful I thought it’d be. But I have to admit I found it good, covering most of what you’d want to know about the books and about Stieg and anything else that might have influenced the story about Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.

Without Stieg’s old friend John-Henri this book would hardly have been worth reading. It would have been merely a catalogue of articles on Sweden and men who hate women, in some form or other. To have someone who knew Stieg for over 30 years write about his life like this makes all the difference.

I’m only slightly younger than Stieg, and I find it reassuring that we appear to have done many similar things when we were young, reading the same books, experiencing similar political issues, and so on. I trust someone who was actually there, rather than a writer who just dug up some facts about a stranger.

There are other contributors to The Tattooed Girl who perhaps have less reason to be there. I don’t feel it’s relevant to read about Lars Kepler in this book. Authors like Karin Alfredsson on the other hand have every reason to be a part of this.

Between them the many Larsson specialists paint a portrait of Sweden and the period during which Stieg wrote his books. They can’t explain everything, but they come close.

The Tattooed Girl might be an unauthorised guide, but it should take care of what fans want to know.

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.