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Out Stealing Horses Hardcover – April 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who "pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent." Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
In this quiet but compelling novel, Trond Sander, a widower nearing seventy, moves to a bare house in remote eastern Norway, seeking the life of quiet contemplation that he has always longed for. A chance encounter with a neighborthe brother, as it happens, of his childhood friend Joncauses him to ruminate on the summer of 1948, the last he spent with his adored father, who abandoned the family soon afterward. Tronds recollections center on a single afternoon, when he and Jon set out to take some horses from a nearby farm; what began as an exhilarating adventure ended abruptly and traumatically in an act of unexpected cruelty. Pettersons spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Tronds childhood and adult perspectives. Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boys perception, but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man.
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
"Out Stealing Horse" is ia snapshot of events that deeply effected him: sense of betrayal towards a father that seemed so close and loving but who who ultimately was a disappointment and unknowable, a friend visited by tragedy that rips his own family apart and now the loss of his (current) wife. While not connected events they are part of the string of Trond's life and we are left to see if there is a pattern or a revelation.
The losses in Trond's life have left him sadly ambivalent towards his own middle aged children. The scars of his own life seemingly driving him towards a hardening emotional shell that he is now somewhat confronting but while he reveals his warmer and reflective thoughts to the reader he is not nearly as generous to those around him. It leaves me wondering what the same story would look like as told by his own mother, father, daughter or friend. It's an interesting thing to consider if Trond maybe very misunderstood by others.
I loved the atmosphere; both the physical world of early winter Norway in modern day and the hot summer of Trond's 15th year and the emotional toll that's taken it's pound of flesh from Trond. It struck me as credible and uncontrived and without pretensions. The writing is sparse but approachable. I was quite taken by it.
I've just finished reading the book. Yes, there were parts I liked in their slow-moving Norweigian way, sounding in my mind just the way Scandinavian people speak. And I liked the bits where something dramatic is described in exactly the same, laid-back way, so that it makes you wonder what comes next.
But in this day and age aren't all the descriptive passages somewhat overdone? I don't really need a blow-by-blow account of how one makes coffee, oils a saw, or what snow looks like. The jumping around from one period to another is not always well done, though the basic concept is good (that's also what I tried to do in my book), and the boy's eye-view isn't always all that distinct from that of the older man.
I detested the description of the 'refugee' the Norweigians were trying to smuggle across the border. Although the word 'Jew' is not used, I felt the description was distinctly anti-Semitic.
And what did Jon's father do with regard to this incident? It is hinted at, but no clear reference is made to it. Is this intentional or simply a case of poor editing?
But the ending! I was expecting at least something more dramatic than the one we got. I suppose I'm too cynical for that kind of thing, but the whole book builds up to some dramatic climax, which turns out to be something extremely undramatic.
The writing (il.e., translation) is good, but occasionally seemed slightly stilted, though that's really in tune with the way of speaking of those people. And there are some unanswered questions. What happened to and with Lars? What did Trond do all his life to make a living?
Anyhow, on the whole I enjoyed the book.
Sent from my iPad
Petterson, I believe, allows us 'freer rein' to make conclusions and assimilate the more intimate meanings by calling upon our emotions and memories of our own 'coming of age' and family ties.
I sense that Petterson was as taken as we were with the artfully furtive pace and elusive narrative that defines his novel. He openly avows that he had no idea where he was going when he began to write this novel.
If Out Stealing Horses were a musical performance, it would most certainly resonate with clean, crisp notes... modern, impassable, eerily illustrious and uniquely unforgettable.
The prose is as dense as the landscape with sentences that demand close, attentive reading.
But its minimalism belies the expanse and intensity of the emotional fathomage embedded in its bosom. Trond has erected almost impenetrable barriers around himself and the reader must adeptly find ways to circumnavigate them.
By carefully navigating the frozen tundra guarding the heart (or soul) of the novel, the reader enters into the self prescribed isolation that permeates this story and that of the main protagonist...Trond.
The experience is well worth the journey!
Most recent customer reviews
Despite the title that sounds like a Western, this is a delicate, deep novel set in the Norwegian hinterland, switching from the present to the Nazi...Read more