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TGwtDT: Prologue

December 17, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It’s been described as a ‘gripping, multi-national thriller’— so much so that they’re making a movie out of it featuring Daniel Craig (007 FUCK YEAR) and Rooney Mara (hauntingly ugly in the trailer, not so much IRL.)  Let’s read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I love to read, but I’ll admit—I’ve owned the book for the better part of a year, and never managed to make it past the brick wall of the opening chapters. But things will be different this time. I just know it.


A Friday in November

Titles are for chumps. Real men write in real-time.

For kicks, I decided to envision how this would work on the big screen. The prologue— ideally, your opening scene, your first taste of what’s to come, the first handful of minutes before the title drop while the credits roll. With the right cold open, you can give the audience a taste of the conflict to come, that will drive our heroes doggedly forward in spite of the many obstacles and threats that will doubtless be thrown into their path. It can be edgy, it can be shocking, but most importantly it’s the hook for the audience, so it must be attention-grabbing, something that really pulls u—

“After putting down the telephone the eighty-two-year-old birthday boy sat for a long time looking at the pretty but meaningless flower whose name he did not yet know. Then he looked up at the wall above his desk. There hung forty-three pressed flowers in their frames. Four rows of ten, and one at the bottom with four. In the top row one was missing from the ninth slot. Desert Snow would be number forty-four.

Without warning he began to weep. He surprised himself with this sudden burst of emotion after forty years.”

Ok, ok, ok. We’re just laying down some groundwork first, right? Sowing the sweet seeds of foreshadowing so that we might harvest a thrilling emotional payback further on?

The first few paragraphs consist of a phone call between our octogenarian and a retired detective, Superintendent Morell.  We learn that our unnamed old man has been receiving flowers for forty-four years. All arrive the same way, ‘always pressed, mounted on watercolour paper in a simple frame measuring six inches by eleven inches.’ Naturally, there is no name and no evidence hinting at the identity of the sender, because then it wouldn’t be a mystery, right? We do learn, however, that these flowers have postmarks from London, Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid and Florida, so obviously the sender is well-traveled. Unfortunately, each year comes and goes with no epiphany or sudden insight into the identity of the sender, so the conversation is done more out of habit than anything else.

Larsson takes some time to describe the flower in length; perhaps a little too well. Seriously, we get the Latin name and classification of the flower, which precedes what Larsson assumes to be our next question— if this flower is so rare, why is it so difficult to put a name and face to the sender? Apparently, because no one registers flowers or those who cultivate them. Cool story, bro. Not quite invested enough to care properly, but I’ll make a note of this, since I’m sure it will be important later.

It is while looking upon the wall of flowers before his desk that our unnamed birthday boy breaks down into tears. Boom, end prologue, roll title credits, we’re on our way.

This is discouraging, but I persevere.

Good things come to those who wait.

It’ll get better.

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