By Hobo Highbrow
Pauli Ahtisaari turns 60 today. It’s incredible. Most people think the eccentric author is at least 85, because it’s like he has always been around. I met him once in Helsinki, and although I have tried to forget about him since I haven’t.
When I first met the author Pauli Ahtisaari he was sitting on a bench in a park in Helsinki feeding the ducks. He had just finished volume 20 of his autobiographical work My Life. Now was the time to sit down for a couple of minutes before diving into work again with a new novel he was planning called the The Clumsy Ballerina from Tampere.
Ahtisaari started talking about his new novel as soon as I sat down beside him. The Clumsy Ballerina from Tampere was his first attempt on writing crime fiction and this was how it started out:
“One day Marketta Kaukolinna finds a dead body in her garden. Chief Inspector Kaari Vainikainen has to leave her tennis lesson to start investigating a possible murder. The body turns out to be the ballerina Taina Paasio from the Helsinki Balley. Marketta Kaukolinna’s neighbours, Anita Suntila and Teemu Repo, claims to have seen nothing, but Chief Inspector Vainikainen isn’t sure about that. She and her partner Emilia Karonen start out on what shall turn out to be a dangerous travel through the world of classical balley.”
– What do you think? said Ahtisaari.
– Sounds good, I said.
– Do you like Pizza with pepperoni? he asked.
– No, I said.
– Very well, he said and went away in the direction of a shop selling vacuum cleaners and umbrellas.
The conversation with Mr. Ahtisaari had put me in a strange mood. I stayed there on the bench in the park until the darkness surrounded me and I couldn’t see any of the ducks anymore.
Why had he asked whether I liked pizza with pepperoni?
And who had murdered the ballerina Taina Paasio?
The questions went through my mind over and over again on the way back to the hotel where I sat down with my laptop on my knees and googled the name Pauli Ahtisaari.
“Ahtisaari was born in 1959 in a little village in Karelen in the South-East of Finland. He ran away from home already as a three year old because his father gave him strange names like Little Cucumber and Lazy Squirrel and his mother only made one dish for every meal: porridge. He travelled around Europe and settled in the south of France. Later he studied potato print in Aix en Provence before publishing his first novel No more porridge please in 1962. This was an autobiographical novel about his love-hate relation with his mother, father, brother, sister and dog back in Karelen.”
Our thoughts goes to Pauli Ahtisaari’s family on this day. They most certainly must have a hard time trying to find out if he is still alive or not.
Photo 1: Pauli Ahtisaari as a young writer at the time when he had already finished the first ten volumes of his autobiographical work My Life. Photo: Antero Ahtisaari
Photo 1: The writer Pauli Ahtisaari working on his novel The Clumsy Ballerina from Tampere in his office in Helsinki. This is the only photo of Ahtisaari as an adult. Photo: Kari Nummi
Photo 3: View from Pauli Ahtisaari's working room in Helsinki.