Saturday, May 23, 2009

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, Anne Born (Translator)
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, MN
original copyright 2003; translation 2005
Hardcover - 258 pages
contemporary literature, Norwegian
Very Highly Recommended - one of the best

Synopsis from the publisher:
Out Stealing Horses has been embraced across the world as a classic, a novel of universal relevance and power. Panoramic and gripping, it tells the story of Trond Sander, a sixty-seven-year-old man who has moved from the city to a remote, riverside cabin, only to have all the turbulence, grief, and overwhelming beauty of his youth come back to him one night while he's out on a walk. From the moment Trond sees a strange figure coming out of the dark behind his home, the reader is immersed in a decades-deep story of searching and loss, and in the precise, irresistible prose of a newly crowned master of fiction.
Out Stealing Horses has won the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize.

Out Stealing Horses finds 67 year old Trond Sander living a solitary existence. In part this is due to his own yearning to be alone but it is also his way of dealing with some recent grief. An encounter with a neighbor triggers a series of memories and reflections, most of them from the summer when he was fifteen. Out Stealing Horses is not about stealing horses but, rather, it's about how in life you choose what will hurt you. Petterson has achingly, stunningly beautiful writing. So many passages were simply exquisite. I loved this book.
Very Highly Recommended - one of the very best


"Early November. It's nine o'clock. The titmice are banging against the window. Sometimes they fly dizzily off after the impact, other times they fall and lie struggling in the new snow until they can take off again. I don't know what they want that I have." opening

"All my life I have longed to be alone in a place like this. Even when everything was going well, as it often did. I can say that much. That it often did. I have been lucky. But even then, for instance in the middle of an embrace and someone whispering words in my ear I wanted to hear, I could suddenly get a longing to be in a place where there was only silence. Years might go by and I did not think about it, but that does not mean that I did not long to be there. And now I am here, and it is almost exactly as I had imagined it." pg. 7

I want to use the time it takes. Time is important to me now, I tell myself. Not that it should pass quickly or slowly, but be only time, be something I live inside and fill with physical things and activities that I can divide it up by, so that it grows distinct to me and does not vanish when I am not looking. pg. 8

I have grown accustomed to the dark. I cannot remember ever being afraid of it, but I must have been, and now it feels natural and safe and transparent - no matter how much in fact is hidden there, though that means nothing. Nothing can challenge the lightness and freedom of the body; height unconfined, distance unlimited, for these are not the properties of darkness. It is only an immeasurable space to move about inside. pg. 10

" 'You decide for yourself when it will hurt,' he said, suddenly getting serious." pg. 30

"My father could not have told me all this, not with all the details; but that is the way it is printed in my memory, and I do not know whether I began filling out this painting at once or if it is something I have done over the years." pg. 49

"People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinions and assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours, and that lets you off the hook. No-one can touch you unless you yourself want them to." pg. 73 *

"Outside the blue hour has arrived." pg. 99

"And when someone says the past is a foreign country, that they do things differently there, then I have probably felt that way for most of my life because I have been obliged to, but I am not any more. If I just concentrate I can walk into memory's store and find the right shelf with the right film and disappeared into it ...." pg. 231


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I really LOVED this book when I read it last summer. Great review.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I enjoyed every page of this book and I generally do not like books with male protagonists. I wonder what men think of it.

Lori L said...

I regret not looking for it sooner; it was on my wish list for a long time. I also regret trying to read it during a busy time and having to set it aside so often. This is one of those books that will stay with me and I'll be quoting it for a long, long time.

Anna said...

I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. Glad to hear it's good. I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

Diary of an Eccentric