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Out Stealing Horses: A Novel Paperback – April 29, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Alternating between the summer of 1948 and the present, Per Petterson writes of Trond Sanders, who is essentially trying to disappear from the world after three years of mourning for his wife. He has moved to the country, and obsesses over tiny details of his new existence. At the same time, he examines the events from 60 years earier, when he spent a season with his father, a former member of the underground during the Nazi occupation.
It's surprising how big this story is, considering the fragmentary approach Petterson uses. Big in the sense that every page seems loaded with meaning, as if even Trond's stumbling around his run-down cabin hides a secret parallel with an earlier part of his life, or else foreshadows things to come. This sort of storytelling almost promises a compelling denouement, though if that is what the reader is lookng for, he may feel cheated. Instead, Petterson hews closer to reality, shunning the contrived shortcuts fiction is capable of and portrays a complex man who has no more answers to his life's meaning than any of the rest of us.
I found Petterson's style very rustic and refreshing - like a drink of water from a clear stream, or a walk through an untended, leafy wood.Read more ›
The book takes place in 1999 with frequent flashbacks to 1948. The story concerns Trond Sander, a 67-year-old man coming to terms with his aging body and still grieving three years after the deaths of his wife and sister. Telling no one, not even his two grown daughters, Trond takes his pension and moves to an isolated lakeside cabin in the wilds of northern Norway. There he plans to live out the rest of his life in quiet solitude. He spends his days repairing his ideally situated but ramshackle cabin, taking walks with his beloved dog, absorbing the beauty of nature that fill his senses with pleasure at every turn, and dealing with the mundane necessities of everyday life. He has an acute desire to be alone, and is, in every way, perfectly content with this isolation.
Circumstances bring Trond together with one of his neighbors, Lars Haug, another solitary man. It doesn't take both men very long to realize that they share a mysterious common heritage of heartache some fifty years earlier when Trond was 15 and Lars was a 10-year-old neighbor boy, the little brother of his close friend Jon. Long dormant memories are awakened, old wounds opened; yet both men avoid discussing their common history of emotional pain.
It is this mystery of what really happened between their two families in the summer of 1948 that holds the book together.Read more ›
After the first twelve pages, in which he does not divulge a whole lot about himself, Trond begins relating an incident from 1948 when he was fifteen, and so he continues switching back and forth from the last months of 1999 to a period ranging from 1948 to 1942. The major part of the novel takes place during this latter time span. Because of the way that the narrative develops, I did not feel that I knew the whole story until I had read the very last line--"and we do decide for ourselves when it will hurt." This line first appears in the second chapter and runs like a refrain throughout the story. The episodes that Trond recalls in a rather elliptical fashion deal with formative events from his adolescence. During this period, he spent a summer with his father in a remote forest village in Norway, learned about his father's resistance activities during World War II, and suffered the loss of his father.
Outside of his memories from this adolescent past, Trond tells the reader little about his life. The novel as a whole, however, is extremely powerful. Upon finishing the book, I found it completely logical that a man in the last stages of his life would reflect back upon a time when his identity was formed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel is a reflection of what it is to be a human being. Just beautifulPublished 1 day ago by Lisa
One of the three best novels I've read during the past ten years. A truly beautiful, moving work of art.Published 11 days ago by Sullivan
Excellent book. He does a great job of evoking atmospheres. I really enjoyed it.Published 16 days ago by BlueDog
Beautifully written! But, left me feeling somewhat melancholy. Though I am not yet as old as Trond, I understand many of his thoughts and acceptances about aging and how the past... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jaronn Drassal
It took a while" to get it "on how the book was set up. Story so-so but sure ended abruptly. Leaves more questions in my mind than it answers.Published 2 months ago by 41spots
I love being introduced to international authors and their environs. This was a good read… short but content-heavy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mary Sahs
Great. Hard to follow. Did get the story line once into the book..Published 3 months ago by purchaser
Thoroughly enjoyed the writing - kept me interested even as the author left me wanting more. Conjures the landscape so very effectively - works with the characters to create a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gerald B. Punke