January 21, 2020.
No babysitter. The rest is silence.
In the evening I did read for an hour just to REALIZE that I had already read Frans Eemil Sillanpää's A Way of Man (Miehen Tie, 1932). I cannot remember when it happened and if it was upon finishing one of his best books Silja, the Maid. The story of A Way of Man fainted in my mind. The only thing I can clearly remember from the book are all the curious Finnish names.
The young hero Paavo Ahrola; the women whose hearts he breaks: Alma Vormisto and Hulda Tiirikka; the only man who ever cared for him: Vihtori Taatila. The sounds of these names alone make you feel that you are in a fairy tale: it's just something Finland does.
So I started to read A Way of Man and first it was like experiencing a dream: My memories popped to the surface in a surprising manner at unexpected moments and only a tiny bit earlier than I'd have made them again. What was my mind so busy with back then, I wonder, that I forgot to make a lasting memory of this story?
I kept thinking about how it is possible when now I got so hooked up by the same story. While I cannot answer my question to why I forgot about this book in the past, I can certainly answer what makes it great today:
I could start with praising the beautiful descriptions of Finnish farming life in the first half of the 20th century and Sillanpää's way of talking about nature, which is incredible, but descriptions alone don't bring anyone back to a book, do they?
The hero of A Way Of Man is in his twenties. He just lost his wife in childbirth. He is a loner and a lost soul. Why do we care about him? We care about him because five years earlier he had knocked up a village girl. Never married her. He sent her money but received a proud answer:
"How does Mr. Paavo know, if the child is his?"
The woman never accepted any money from him. Now he has become a widow and the village girl who was once his lover works on his farm as a laborer. They see each other again. How will this end between them? Will Paavo ever get to know his child who he abandoned? Will he fall in love with the woman whose trust he broke? Will the woman fall in love with him again? Is this story truly about these two people?
Good stories only need a few intriguing questions.
Which reminds me of what Dan Brown calls as the "Three Cs" in the process of building up a Story:
4. CHECK FOR THE THREE Cs / THE CONTRACT
"The Contract is that promise that you're making to the reader. 'If you read this book, you'll find out the following piece of information (...) The reason people are gonna love your book is that when you make a promise, you gonna keep it, and people will begin to trust you as a writer"
Some questions from my own notebook: (No interest to anyone at this point. Just for the sake of true documentation):
Why doesn't Médi's son, Benjamin, know his father? Will Benjamin ever fall in love? Will he fall in love with his girlfriend, Lulu? Will he heal? Will he learn why his mother never told about him to his father?
And the most intriguing question of all:
Will I ever be busy writing my own fiction?