Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Non-ghostly Book

The Girl Who Played With Fire: Stieg Larsson: I loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by this same author. And I was fully prepared to love this one as much. I didn't. I didn't hate it; I just didn't love it and I'm not sure why. I think it may have been the translation or something, but that doesn't make sense because Reg Keeland translated both novels. I still like the characters, especially Lisbeth Salander. And I liked the story, which revolved around sex trafficking in Sweden. It was also nice the way Lisbeth was forced to confront her past. She becomes less of a shadowy character as we learn more about her in this novel. The language was flat, though, and the dialogue was stilted. Often I'd find myself thinking during conversations, "Oh, please! No real person talks that way!" In some places, this was so bad that I'd be completely thrown out of the story. And there were a couple of things that I'm not really sure why they were in the novel as they weren't related back to the story in any way -- mostly the mathematical equations and Lisbeth's attempt to solve Fermat's Last Theorem. They were interesting but that's all. All that said, I liked this book and am looking forward to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.


Reg said...

Hi Katya, Please don't blame me for the weird dialogue in these books. They were heavily edited by the Scottish publisher, so my smooth American lines did not always survive. BTW, this was originally my favorite of the 3.


Katya said...

Thanks for letting me know this -- I loved this story and couldn't figure out why the dialogue seemed so stilted in this book when that wasn't the case with the first one. I certainly never expected you to respond to my comments!

Reg said...

Just defending my reputation, Katya, after doing this for 36 years... I haven't read the printed versions.

BabelBabe said...

Wow, I blamed the translator, too. Sorry!

Katya, the third is already out in Australia, I believe. Pls don't ask why i am perusing Australian bookstore websites : ).

Katya said...

BB: I'm sure it has something to do with some book we both want to read NOW that isn't out yet.

Reg: We are ALL sorry for blaming the translator! :) Did you have similar problems with the third book?

Reg said...

Thanks, all -- it's hard to educate reviewers especially, who always blame the translator, like some evil reflex. If they can't read both languages, they have no business doing so. There are many other hands involved in making a book, and we certainly never have the last word. And yes, all 3 books shared this fate, hence the pen name.

Samantha said...

It was very interesting to read the comments here Katya. Helps to understand a bit more about what I also saw as a flaw in the books!

I actually think I liked the second one more than the first - mainly because I found the crime in the first one a bit unbelievable - but I am sure there is evidence of true crimes like it!

I have finished the third one and thought it a good end to the series - so unfortunate that the author has died :-(

How much do you and BB want to pay me to send you a copy of the third one from Australia huh??????

Katya said...

Ha!! Samantha -- we should both seriously think about it! It's not going to be released until May here!

I thought the comments were interesting too because I always thought that the translator, as the expert on the language, would be the person with the most control over how the book turned out. The second book was a better story -- I agree with that.

Reg said...

It seems to be a common trait of Anglo publishers (both UK and US) to consider a translation the same way they would a manuscript. They don't allow that a book is a finished entity when it's published in another language, but think they have carte blanche to make cuts, additions, and even change synonyms they don't like. All of these were done in the case of Stieg Larsson. I took a look today at vol. 3 and found that the first 4 pages of chapter 1 were gone. Not "necessary," I suppose.

So the editor has the final say, not the translator. And most often the editor doesn't know the original language, but may have read the book in French or German and wants to make it more like one of those versions.

Katya said...

Oh no! The first 4 pages? That seems a tad excessive to me anyway.

Reg said...

I can't bear to look at the rest.

Katya said...

I can't say I blame you for that at all.

オテモヤン said...


Miriam said...

I've read all three books in Swedish, and I liked the plots, but I got annoyed at the language as well sometimes. I read them a couple of months ago, and remeber that I wondered if Stieg Larsson had ever thought about using synonyms. .___. (and yes, I also thought 'does anyone actually use these kind of words while speaking today'?)

Katya said...

I'm looking forward to the third book -- that's interesting that the language issues I had were there in Swedish as well.