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Book Review

Book Review: “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me


“There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me
By Eva Gabrielsson
Released: 2011

 

Here is the real inside story—not the one about the Stieg Larsson phenomenon, but rather the love story of a man and a woman whose lives came to be guided by politics and love, coffee and activism, writing and friendship. Only one person in the world knows that story well enough to tell it with authority. Her name is Eva Gabrielsson.

Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson shared everything, starting when they were both eighteen until his untimely death thirty-two years later at the age of fifty. In “There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me, Eva Gabrielsson accepts the daunting challenge of telling the story of their shared life steeped in love and sharpened in the struggle for justice and human rights. She chooses to tell it in short, spare, lyrical chapters, like snapshots, regaling Larsson’s readers with the inside account of how he wrote, why he wrote, who the sources were for Lisbeth and his other characters—graciously answering Stieg Larsson’s readers’ most pressing questions—and at the same time telling us the things we didn’t know we wanted to know—about love and loss, death, betrayal, and the mistreatment of women.


I really enjoyed reading Eva’s story. It is a book about love, loss, and the man behind the iconic Lisbeth Salander. I especially loved every single one of the details about the inspiration for characters, places, and themes driving The Millennium Trilogy. Stieg Larsson’s work is unparalleled and inimitable.

In fact, everything of this nature described in The Millennium Trilogy has happened at one time or another to a Swedish citizen, journalist, politician, public prosecutor, unionist, or policeman. Nothing was made up.

Without Stieg’s battles and crusades, The Millennium Trilogy would never have seen the light of day. His struggle is the heart, brain, and brawn of that saga.

Eva touched on the injustice of unwed lifetime partnership rights upon death in Sweden, but it is not the bulk of the book. In fact, I didn’t like how this section was formatted from snippets of her diary over the course of the first year after Stieg’s death. I would have preferred a more organized presentation (even though I can appreciate it was an impossible year).

I would recommend this if you love Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy. It provides fascinating insights. One of the most striking parts of the book is the soulful love story between Eva and Stieg. My absolute favorite is the following letter…

Stockholm, February 9, 1977

Eva, my love,

It’s over. One way or another, everything comes to an end. It’s all over some day. That’s perhaps one of the most fascinating truths we know about the entire universe. The stars die, the galaxies die, the planets die. And people die too. I’ve never been a believer, but the day I became interested in astronomy, I think I put aside all that was left of my fear of death. I’d realized that in comparison to the universe, a human being, a single human being, me … is infinitely small. Well, I’m not writing this letter to deliver a profound religious or philosophical lecture. I’m writing it to tell you “farewell.” I was just talking to you on the phone. I can still hear the sound of your voice. I imagine you, before my eyes … a beautiful image, a lovely memory I will keep until the end. At this very moment, reading this letter, you know that I am dead.

There are things I want you to know. As I leave for Africa, I’m aware of what’s waiting for me. I even have the feeling that this trip could bring about my death, but it’s something that I have to experience, in spite of everything. I wasn’t born to sit in an armchair. I’m not like that. Correction: I wasn’t like that … I’m not going to Africa just as a journalist, I’m going above all on a political mission, and that’s why I think this trip might lead to my death.

This is the first time I’ve written to you knowing exactly what to say: I love you, I love you, love you, love you. I want you to know that. I want you to know that I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone. I want you to know I mean that seriously. I want you to remember me but not grieve for me. If I truly mean something to you, and I know that I do, you will probably suffer when you learn I am dead. But if I really mean something to you, don’t suffer, I don’t want that. Don’t forget me, but go on living. Live your life. Pain will fade with time, even if that’s hard to imagine right now. Live in peace, my dearest love; live, love, hate, and keep fighting.…

I had a lot of faults, I know, but some good qualities as well, I hope. But you, Eva, you inspired such love in me that I was never able to express it to you.…
Straighten up, square your shoulders, hold your head high. Okay? Take care of yourself, Eva. Go have a cup of coffee. It’s over. Thank you for the beautiful times we had. You made me very happy. Adieu.

I kiss you goodbye, Eva.

From Stieg, with love.

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