Mayhem. Now there’s a word loaded with meaning.
It can be lots of fun, even life affirming. You know, laughing in the face of events that threaten your life.
Canadians have an advantage when it comes to mayhem. We know it intimately. Every winter we become reacquainted when a blizzard blows horizontal snow and creates all sorts of chaos. Then there’s that icy winds to suck the life out of you. The next time you find yourself coming inside from one of those storms, look around. People become more animated because the blizzard changes the routine, adds energy and makes us all survivors.
A survivor like Lisbeth Salander. What would Larsson’s book be without the mayhem surrounding Salander? She’s at the eye of the storm that will change the lives of almost every other character in the novel. It’s invigorating for the reader to be a witness to that chaos.
Salander is a survivor just like we are after summer thunder clouds roll in with their violent winds, lightning, bone rattling thunder, hail and falling trees.
Larsson adds killers Martin Vanger and Alexander Zalachenko to increase the intensity of the storm.
We experience those savage storms that interrupt power, make transportation impossible, isolate us for a day or a week and we find ways to survive.
Salander is made more alive by the storm and creates some weather of her own. Who among us wouldn’t like to fight back against the mayhem we encounter by creating some?
This is where our writing comes in. Writers are able to create, shape, describe, witness and survive the storms created by our imaginations and shaped by our realities. When we’re really lucky, we are along for the ride. The story and its characters take over and we are in the eye, watching the mayhem created when the story – like the storm – takes on a life of its own. All we can do is write everything down and enjoy the ride.
Garry Ryan was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, where he lives today. He received a B.Ed. and a Diploma in Educational Psychology from the University of Calgary, and taught English and Creative Writing to junior high and high school students before retiring in 2009.
Garry Ryan’s next novel Blackbirds is due for release in September 2012.