(This was kind of my face after reading the latest attempted Dragon Tattoo takedown.)
The New York Review of Books has a strange and muddled critique of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. (Otherwise known as the “Men Who Hate Women” books about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)
“Strange and muddled” because the article, by British novelist Tim Parks, raises a number of interesting and valid problems with the books but tries to weld them together in a very awkward and unconvincing fashion. I completely lost the thread in the last two paragraphs, when Parks somehow argues that the flaws in Larsson’s books are a direct result of his failure to write a will and of his experience training guerrillas in Eritrea — “women guerrillas, of course.” Wait, what?
It’s ironic and unfortunate that Parks spends most of his review trying to unpack Larsson’s complicated depictions of sexuality and sexual violence, but ends up distracted by his own sense of disenfranchisement:
Notably, all sexual encounters in which men take the initiative are violent and pathological; all encounters in which women run the relationship (avoiding commitment) are okay. There is nothing in between and no space for the conventional, assertive male libido.
That poor, underrepresented “conventional, assertive male libido.” Dear Straight White Men: Please look beyond this objection on the rare occasion that a commercially successful piece of fiction, film or television does not focus on the experience of Straight White Men. It’s predictable and boring, and nobody else cares.