Saturday, February 19, 2011

CBR-III: Book #4: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

It’s a shame that Stieg Larsson died. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest is by far the most superior book of the series. Even though I am a little upset at, once again, the lack of Ronald Niedermann in the story.

The third book of the series picks up right where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. Salander and Alexander Zalachenko are being transported by helicopter to a hospital. Niedermann is on the run after killing some cops, and Blomkvist is trying to figure out the story.

The main difference between this book and the last two are the pace. Plus, some new artistic flourishes that Larsson uses (such as incorporating historical accounts of warrior women). The pace because, unlike the other two, the book maintains a steady rhythm. Both The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire started out agonizingly slow…and have several moments throughout the books that could induce a coma. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, because of where the book is picking up, automatically begins at a feverish place. The pace continues, except for a few clipped moments that were easily overcome.

Plot? It’s kind of hard to say without giving away too much detail. Details that make the story wonderful. Salander is in the hospital, awaiting trial for attempted murder and a host of other charges. When she, with the help of Blomkvist, gains internet access and quickly goes on the hunt. Blomkvist is searching for a group called The Section. The group responsible for Salander’s cover-up in her youth, also the same group responsible for Zalachenko. Along the way we are exposed to the new cover-up that The Section is trying to create, with the help of internal knowledge, and an investigation involving Sapo, the regular police, Milton Security, and Millennium. In a sub-plot we had Erika Berger. Now working for a rival paper she is being stalked and threatened. While her story can easily be considered one of the weakest it is also rather interesting.

Larsson managed to host a massive amount of characters fluidly. With a combination of both new, and returning players. Some of the least influential in the other novels are now brought to the stage, while some of the main ones almost take a backseat. One of the most captivating new characters is Figuerola, Blomkvist’s new love interest in this one. She’s an Amazon woman who works for Sapo, addicted to working out. Despite how much Larsson devotes to describing the characters physique…it really leads to nothing. The entire time I wanted her to engage in some kind of battle with Niedermann. Sadly, I was disappointed.

The trial is also one of the best ones I’ve ever read. That’s saying something considering I’ve read a lot of Grisham. However, I don’t know Swedish law…but I would have to say several things happen in the court room that probably aren’t very legal. Oh, and I suppose I should have mentioned that Blomkvist’s sister is representing Salander.

The ending felt a little forced. I don’t really know the reason for this, but I felt slightly cheated. I expected something bigger…grander.

Like I said, shame Larsson died. He seemed to have finally found a really unique and distinct voice in this, the third book. Rumor has it that he had almost completed a fourth…I wonder if they are going to get a ghost writer. It’s also been reported that he apparently had outlines for quite a few more books. I honestly don’t know how many more he could have done before he just completely exhausted the potential of the characters. After all, there is only so many times Salander can be in trouble, Blomkvist can crack an international story, and people can keep fucking strangers without contracting a serious STD.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pretty Little Things

Atlanta never fails to disappoint.
I thought I was going to have a date last night. I took off work, started cleaning my car, I was even about to get a haircut and trim my beard. Thank god I didn’t do that. My plan was to take her to this burlesque sideshow in Atlanta. So when the date got canceled I debated going to Atlanta for the show or just working anyway. I chose the show…mainly because of Heather Holliday. A few months ago I saw a video…this video to be exact …and I’ve kind of had an obsession with her since. Not an unhealthy obsession. I don’t plan on stalking her or anything. She’s just incredibly hot. I can’t help myself. Consider it on par with a celebrity crush. I even wore my Warriors t-shirt. No one seemed to understand that The Warriors were from Coney Island…where she primarily lives and works. Oh well.

So I get to Atlanta and Steven and I go to Jack’s Pizza & Wings for some beers and pizza. Well, I ate pizza…he stole off my plate like a little bitch. How can you say, “I’m not hungry,” and then continually steal bites of my slice of white pizza? Anyway. I think our intent was to just chill there until it was time to go to the show. Then Corey called. Corey called saying he wanted to get drunk. So we go back to Steven’s to pick Corey up…and then back the way we just came to meet up with their friends Chris and Delia. The five of us then headed to The 5 Spot for the “Pretty Things Peepshow.”

Facebook said the event started at 8. We got there around 8:30. The event started at 10. So we skipped out on The 5 Spot and went to have a few drinks at El Myr. This was primarily because The 5 Spot didn’t allow smoking. How dare we be in a place that doesn’t allow smoking. There was a little intermission at El Myr with a crackhead. I find out that Delia and I get all of our tattoos by the same artist (Sam Parker). Other than that…there’s little to be said about El Myr. Although Steven did give us an informative presentation on what kind of fish they had mounted on the walls.

Back at The 5 Spot at 10 and we wait for the show to start. I ran into my friend Kim…whom I haven’t seen in a long time. It was good seeing her.

This was my first burlesque show. I’d have to say I enjoyed it. Despite the fact that they are not fully nude…I totally thought it kicked the shit out of a strip club. Burlesque was much more seductive and sultry. Not simply ass shaking and taking your clothes off. The creator of the show is a lady named Go Go Amy. She’s a beautiful woman. To put it mildly. When Heather came onstage, I about died. She participated in several routines. Personally she did a sword swallowing routine and a fire breathing one. She also helped out in a whip cracking and “electrifying” an audience member. To say I was enthralled is an understatement.

I noticed this chick that kept looking at Steven. So, when she sat down next to him, I mentioned this fact and they soon started talking. When the show ended we all stepped outside. As I’m standing out there Corey tells me to get the car started so it can warm up…in particular he said, “Give me the keys. I’ll get the car going.” Not likely. So Corey is standing there with me, Steven is talking to the lady, and I’m debating going back inside to meet Heather. I finally told myself, “Self. If you don’t at least say hi to her you’ll end up regretting it.” She’s very tiny. When I put my hand on her waist to get her attention I could almost touch from the center of her back to her belly button. I stammered something about seeing the previously mentioned video. She replied back about how she did that video while she was hyped up on too much caffeine. I said I just wanted to meet her. She smiled and said thank you. Done.

During the show Corey was being his usual rude drunken self. It’s one of those traits that you either hate, or learn to love. When I get outside he’s part of a large group of people. Steven is still talking to the girl, so I go and get the car started. It’s about that time I hear raised voices and Steven is giving me a look of “Shits about to get real.” How do I put this? We will call Steven’s lady friend A. One of A’s friends was part of that large group of people. Corey had mixed in with the group (he’s a social butterfly) and asked if they wanted to see a card trick. A’s friend replied back “No we don’t want to see some stupid card trick. Take that shit somewhere else.” Now this might just be me, but if a harmless drunk person asks if I want to see a card trick, I’m not going to be rude. Humor me. However, Corey being Corey responded back with “You don’t have to be a fat bitch.” Her boyfriend seemed to take offense to that. I see pushing going on. People are yelling at Corey to apologize. “A” is telling Steven, “I think this started because your friend was rude to my friend.” And Steven is REALLY looking at me now. The boyfriend is getting in Corey’s face and shoving him.
“Did you say something dick to my girl?”
“You didn’t call her a name?”
“Oh did I call her a fat bitch? Yeah, I did call her a fat bitch.”
This is when the guy starts swinging. Now, the boyfriend had a buddy who was standing on the edge of the group of people. When he started swinging his friend made a move like he was going to join him. He was a fairly large dude, but I put my hand on his shoulder and said “no.” He quickly calmed down. I have no problem with two people going man to man. I get upset when people decide to jump in. I was perfectly content to let Corey and the boyfriend slug it out. Then I feel a hand on my back and Steven is pushing me, “You’re big enough to do something.” Thanks Steven. So I get in between the two of them. I pull Corey away, boyfriends friend pulls him away. The shit talking get’s started. I drag Corey to the car, Steven is right beside us, and we haul ass out of there.

Onward to Gravity. As soon as we walk in the first thing we notice is that the place is quiet. In fact, the owner and bartender are playing Fallout: New Vegas. There’s a dude who is passed out at the bar, who Corey quickly wakes up. That guy then stumbled to the bathroom…where he passed out. He’s also the same guy that started puking on the floor. The bartender had gotten stuck in a mountain in the game. That provided for hilarious conversation the rest of the night. Corey eventually got out of the mountain, and was then killed by the Geico Gecko…twice. I got out of the mountain, killed two of the Gecko’s and was killed by a third. Then it was the bartenders turn again.

End with a trip to Krystal’s. That was a Thursday night.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CBIII: Book #3: The Girl Who Played With Fire

What can I say about The Girl Who Played With Fire? That Salander is all growed up! She’s even fucking teenagers! Wait…what? Yup. In the beginning of the book I believe the guy she’s sleeping with is 16.

So how does this book go about? Well, it begins by stating that Salander hasn’t been home in a year. She’s been traveling the world. She’s tan. She has breast implants. She’s taken out most of her piercings. She even got the Wasp tattoo removed from her neck. Also? She buys an apartment with 10 rooms and a great view, and sits around in the bath a lot. Basically, she’s become a whole new person.

The plot? It begins with Salander saving a woman’s life and effectively killing her husband. She’s also become obsessed with math…which doesn’t come into play until nearly the end of the book. Salander is framed for the murders of 3 people. One of which was working on a story for Millennium about the sex trade industry. When Salander becomes the primary suspect Blomkvist sets about trying to uncover the facts and prove her innocence. Along the way we discover a twist…that…well…that actually turns out to be kind of fucking boring, and bikers…there‘s bikers. We are given more of Salanders back-story, primarily her childhood and teen years. Including an incident in which she lived with an older man, who took care of her, in return she just had to walk around him naked. After learning that she’s actually trained as a boxer I saw her more as Noomi Rapace and less as Rooney Mara. Mainly because Rapace is rather muscular…even while being thin. Where was I?

Salander kind of disappears through the middle of the book and we are left following Blomkvist and the detectives in charge of the case. No one we are presented with is actually interesting. Except for Roland Niedermann. The Giant Monster. He’s German, 6’7”, 300+ lbs, muscles of a pro-wrestler, and impervious to pain. How can you NOT like that character? Seriously…Larsson should have just wrote the whole book about him. He doesn’t talk much (Bonus! He has a Mike Tyson voice! Did I mention he cuts people up with a chainsaw?!), but I could have easily read an entire book of people trying to beat him up, failing, and him kicking the shit out of them in return.

Like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Larsson still makes mistakes. He includes a whole bunch of new characters that don’t really matter much. However, with the cliffhanger ending we are given in The Girl Who Played With Fire I would assume some of these characters might play more prominent roles in the next book.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to eat my pizza and watch the movie.

I Hate Your Shit!

One of my favorite criticisms I’ve ever received about my writing came about 4 years ago in my advanced creative writing course. This is it.

“The subject matter of this story is highly offensive. And it is due to this fact,

that I have very little to say regarding ‘A Different Perspective.’ I could not read past the first two pages [of a 52 page story]. The abundance of profanity was distracting. The lewd and crass topic is severy detrimental

to your work. I say, detrimental, because any idea or concept you were attempting to express, was lost. If your ultimate point was something of great significance, you smothered it, poisoning it with your choice of language and subject matter. If your primary purpose was to shock readers, then you have succeeded. But in shocking this reader, I will never know if you had an idea worthy of serious consideration.

As a writer, story-teller and creator, you undoubtedly reserve the right to express yourself in any manner you wish. It is entirely your choice whether to use profanity or to write a story about vulgar sexual escapades. But, in doing so, you risk offending your readers, reducing accessibility to your thoughts, your ideas, your expression and your potentially inf

luential art. Also, you sacrifice the beauty of the written word. I am sorry but this story was a bit too much for me to take. Good Luck.”