"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me

 

Copyright © 2011 by Actes Sud
English translation © 2011 by Linda Coverdale

 

First English-Language Edition

 

Original title:
Millénium, Stieg et moi
Original publisher: Actes Sud, 2011

 

Photo illustrations from the personal collection of Eva Gabrielsson

 

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gabrielsson, Eva.

 

[Millénium, Stieg et moi. English]
“There are things I want you to know” about Stieg Larsson and me Eva Gabrielsson ; with Marie-Françoise Colombani; translated from the French by Linda Coverdale.
1st English language ed.
p. cm.
eISBN: 978-1-60980-364-3
1. Larsson, Stieg, 1954–2004. 2. Gabrielsson, Eva.
3. Authors, Swedish—20th century—Biography. 4. Journalists—Sweden.
I. Colombani, Marie-Françoise. II. Coverdale, Linda. III. Title.
PT9876.22.A6933Z6413 2011
839.73′8—dc23
2011016387

 

v3.1

 

Till alla Er som höll mig när jag inte höll ihop själv
.
Och till Er som stannade kvar efteråt
.

To all those who supported me when I faltered.
And to those who are standing by me still.

—EG

Contents
 
 
 
Foreword
 

YES, THERE
is a mystery behind
The Millennium Trilogy
. And secrets, too. As in the parable of Plato’s Cave, Stieg Larsson’s crime novels allow only a certain reality to appear, and the reality that remains hidden within them is rich in stories that open endlessly onto still more stories. The trilogy is filled with signs, some of which are drawn from everyday life while others, strangely powerful, link Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson, his companion of thirty-two years, to worlds distinctly their own: science fiction, the Bible, Scandinavian mythology, espionage, the battle against right-wing extremism, the struggle for human rights.…

Only Eva Gabrielsson can shed an intimate light on the
Millennium
novels, which in her telling become much more than the crime fiction saga known throughout the world. The trilogy is an allegory of the individual’s eternal fight for justice and morality, the values for which Stieg Larsson fought until the day he died. To Eva Gabrielsson, these books are the reflection of a shared life and love, but also the embodiment of terrible events. The first and most dramatic of these, of course, was the sudden loss of Stieg. Felled by a heart attack at the age of fifty soon after delivering his manuscripts to his publisher, Stieg never witnessed the immense success of his creation. And what happened next was sordid. Because domestic unions between unmarried childless couples are not legally recognized in Sweden, Eva was deprived of all of her inheritance from her partner and for a time even feared she would be evicted from their small apartment, only half of which she owned. Another distressing development for Eva was the growth of a huge “Stieg Larsson industry,” the complete antithesis of everything he stood for: TV series, films, books by false friends, all kinds of rumors.… The real Stieg Larsson—the militant, the feminist, the journalist, the autodidact of a vast and eclectic culture—gradually disappeared, leaving the blockbuster author alone in the spotlight.

From beginning to end, Stieg’s life was a true saga, and Eva, a major character in that intimate novel, has decided to give us a few keys to his roman à clef. This plainspoken, straightforward woman, as loyal and idealistic as Stieg himself, does not make compromises. Those who know her know this well. Come what may, her friends can count on her, just as they could count on her companion. The rest have been left behind on the path of betrayal, as Stieg would have done.

Today Eva is fighting to obtain control over Larsson’s literary estate. She is doing it for him, because he would have hated more than anything else to see his early writings, his articles against racism, his books about the far right, and his
Millennium Trilogy
milked for profits. If Eva’s request is granted, she will clear up the mystery shrouding the fourth novel in the series, for she has followed its genesis closely, just as she did with the first three volumes. Those of us in love with the trilogy may therefore still hope one day to rejoin our heroes, and as for the enemies of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist—let them tremble, for this fourth book will be entitled
The Vengeance of God
. And they should know this: Eva, tempered in the fires of adversity, is poised to write the final words of their fate and lead a dance on their graves.

MARIE-FRANÇOISE COLOMBANI

Speaking of Coffee
 

PEOPLE OFTEN
ask me if the Swedish drink as much coffee as the characters do in
The Millennium Trilogy
. Well, we drink a lot of it indeed, given that Finland is the only country in the world that consumes more coffee than we do. And if I had to single out just one thing in common between Stieg Larsson and Mikael Blomkvist, it would surely be their impressive daily quota of coffee.

Stieg and I shared this addiction, which dates from our childhood. (Stieg’s grandmother began giving him coffee openly when he was five, when children ordinarily drink milk; my grandmother did the same with me, but more discreetly, since my mother was still around.) Coffee was for both of us an extraordinary remedy for all kinds of misfortunes
great or small. Synonymous with intimacy, conviviality, hospitality, it accompanied our moments of happiness as well as our long, long conversations with each other or friends. In the course of our thirty-two years together, I think we were largely responsible for the Swedish coffee industry’s handsome profits! Although we experimented with every possible way of preparing the brew, we always fell back on percolated coffee. In our home, a coffeepot sat permanently on the stove.

 

THESE DAYS
, I don’t fix coffee for myself anymore. It’s silly to fill only half a coffeepot. Besides, the empty half means that Stieg will never again look at me over the rim of his cup, his eyes twinkling with curiosity, like a child who’s just been given a present. Never again will I hear him say, “So, tell me: What did you do today? What new things have you discovered?”

In
The Millennium Trilogy
, Lisbeth Salander sometimes breaks off a discussion with Mikael Blomkvist by saying, “I’ll think about it.” The first time I read that, I burst out laughing! Whenever Stieg and I reached an impasse during a serious argument because I wouldn’t adopt his point of view, I always wound up saying those same words. They meant that it was time to move on to a more neutral and pleasant conversation, so at this signal, one of us would immediately get up to go make a pot of coffee, and we’d be friends again.

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