Well, it worked. I finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in time for the meeting and had a better experience than I thought I would.
I owe it all to active reading. When I was close to quitting and knew that I could NOT show up at the BOOKLEAVES meeting without completing the book that I had suggested, I decided to give active reading a try. I would “have a conversation” with the book and its author.
Writing in my books — even a soft, penciled underlining — is something that I just do not do. My goal as a book owner is to have people ask me if I’ve ever read a particular book because it looks so pristine. My friend Faulkner Guy annotates to beat the band and laughs at my looks of horror.
Early last week when I was reading Flirting with Pride & Prejudice, one of the essayists wrote that she wasn’t getting on well at all with one of the Austen books — it was either Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice — so she was ready to throw in the embroidered dishtowel, but one of her friends suggested that she try active reading and she ended up loving the novel and going deeper into it than she’d ever imagined.
I won’t go so far as to say that I loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I was engaged. As a result, it feels as if I really know these characters and I really know the story. It’s like I’ve almost been inside of it, like in The Eyre Affair. It’s a strange and exhilarating feeling.
My plan was straightforward: If I was going to write in a book, I wouldn’t hold back. As far as active writing went, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up. I backtracked to page 67. That first marginal comment, the open marriage stuff is so offhand — WTF? was torture, but then I was off and running:
God, Blomkvist, you’re such a stinky ass! Beckman’s the one who probably got you in legal trouble because you’re doing his wife!
“[Salander’s] anorexic figure made a career in modelling impossible.” Bullshit.
Vanger: “I’m going to tell you a story in two parts.” Ooooh noooo…
Blomkvist to Vanger: “I’ll give you exactly 30 minutes more to tell me what you want. Then I’m calling a taxi and going home.” That’s how I feel about this book! Why can’t I call a taxi?
Vanger: “But my story is long and complicated.” No shit.
Vanger: “It was no secret that [Harriet] and I had a special relationship…” Creepy, or is it a translation thing?
After a lot of mundane detail about Blomkvist’s day: OMG…killing me with too much detail…while you’re at it, why don’t you mention his poo stops?
Blomkvist had many cold miserable days when the temperature dropped to -35F. Oh please! You’re Swedish! Don’t you know winter? You wuss!
He’s referring to the main characters by their surnames…hard to feel involved with them, except for Salander.
“Bjurman was on his way to being a Major Problem.” You can handle him, Salander — you’re a LOT smarter than he is!
Millennium subplot: Who cares? I want Salander! What about Harriet?
“He made/she made/they made/ they ate sandwiches” (this happens about every ten or so pages or whenever someone gets hungry) I’ve got an idea for a drinking game. And: New English title: People Who Love Sandwiches.
“Blomkvist was reading the evening papers. Nothing much of importance was happening in the world.” OK, if you say so.
Blomkvist reads a Sue Grafton novel, a Sara Paretsky novel and The Mermaids Singing: Dude’s a reader. Larsson’s shout-outs to the female detective writers are sort of endearing.
Too obvious! You don’t have to hit readers over the head! We’re not stupid!
OMG! Has Salander cracked the case? I hope so. Not Blomkvist! HA!
Let’s kick some ass!
There’s more, of course, but I am not a Spoiler.
Now that I’ve let out this dark side of myself, I want to write in every book I read from now on! I even want to read books that I don’t like — books that would otherwise be in my DNF file! It’s like I’ve found a great pair of seven-league boots and been given a vitamin B-12 shot — I can read anything! I’m SuperBookWorm! My pen is a machete! Bring on the sequels! Bring on my nemesis Atlas Shrugged!
I haven’t had this much fun since I discovered that the Marvel Universe is connected.