One of my favourite Finnish authors, Veikko Huovinen, has died. Veikko had prose that had a distinct deliciousness to it. I always wondered about the apparent success of another Finnish author, Arto Paasilinna, who’s prose is so much poorer compared to Veikko’s.
My first contact with Veikko’s work was when there was a tv-series based on his short stories. One of them involved two men, quite bent on drinking alcohol, with the other one being somewhat older and richer. At one point these men left on a roadtrip together, stopping every now and then to buy some more booze. And not just your ordinary gutrot but more refined stuff.
The younger man grows more impatient during the trip since they are not touching the alcohol. He is left to imagine the drunkage taking place when they get to their destination, a recluse log cabin in Lappland or something. Instead of staying at the log cabin, the old man takes the younger man into the woods, which are a-plenty here in Finland, for long hikes. Instead of drinking all the alcohol, the old man proceeds to bury them! In the middle of nowhere! Expensive stuff!
All the accumulated booze is scattered in to the wilderness. Shortly after the trip, the old man dies and leaves the younger man the locations of all that booze… The younger man soon becomes a skilled orienteerist and a cross-country runner, with the occasional prize of a nice bottle of single-malt, instead of slowly drinking his brains out in his flat.
All the above paraphrased from memory. That was the story that sparked my interest (way-back when I was a kid) and made me ask one of his story-collections (“Matikanopettaja”) for Christmas. I was pretty much sold. I’ve been reading his stuff over the years, not really extensively, but enough to keep the fan-flame alive. Pretty much a year ago, one of the finest gentleman in the world, Sam The Bedrock, held his graduation party in Sotkamo, where Veikko lived all his life. We went to get a view to his house, overlooking a river. I took a photograph or two and in one of those photos, if you squint your eyes, you might just imagine seeing Veikko in the window looking outside, pondering… hmmm… pondering… about what…?