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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Out Stealing Horses (2003)

by Per Petterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (182)  Dutch (4)  Danish (3)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (197)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
I was swept away with the first chapter, which was full of lovely, patient writing and reminded me of Wallace Stegner at his best. But soon the prose and story both became hopelessly precious, and they never recovered. The meaning of the story is supposed to be carried in scenes filled with small portentous gestures. Instead, the whole thing collapses on itself, in a run-on mush of blathering sentimentality. The book is self-consciously happy with its sentences, but empty of greater meaning. The stylistic choices of that delight in the first chapter become a tedious hum of the same old rhythms. I'm not sure whether to blame the author or the translator for the highly tedious use of ..and...and...and...in run-on sentences. Hemingway could do that and it meant something. Here it is just another stylistic tic, used in every other sentence, it seemed.

I really wanted to like this book--great title! great cover! great reviews!--and I really didn't. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |

Just a marvelous book, paced so lovely, and the telling of the tale so interesting to me. The back and forth between the past and the present accomplished so adroitly that I was simply amazed at Petterson’s talent I had previous to this book been admittedly embarrassingly unaware of.

I think what made this novel feel so important to me is the narrator’s age of sixty-seven and how after a successful career, a couple wives, two kids and on, he decides to return alone to the woods and make a home for himself and his dog to live out the rest of his days in solitude. His long life spent as a white-collar businessman he now relies on his experience of past summers as a teenager visiting his father at a remote cabin and all the physical work and rugged life spent outdoors helping to hone his now-necessary survival skills. He is pleased at how much he remembers from that time with his father and uses the lessons well as he gets on quite well out there despite his advancing age. But solitude additionally affords him much time to also contemplate his past, and then an old acquaintance from those long ago summers surprisingly ends up being his next door neighbor which adds to the tension as the narrator Trond relates to the reader his vividly poignant memories.

There is mystery present throughout the entire novel and this is something other reviewers found objectionable. I believe the vague and out-of-reach characters of his memory add to the contemplative nature of what Trond is attempting to do in his old age. Every person in the book whether it be his summer friend Jon who was responsible for the rifle accident that took his younger brother’s life, Lar’s the surviving twin who actually shot his brother dead as a little boy while they were both left unattended, Trond’s father who was having an affair with the grieving mother, the mother herself, and even Trond's own mother, all of them a clouded image as in memory and none of them clear to us or to Trond from which to figure anything out. The awful world war that Trond’s father was a part of and he who played such a brave and significant role in the Norwegian resistance to the Nazis was also a backdrop for how his father met this mother of the boys in the first place while working together secretly as couriers against the Nazi occupiers of their country. I think the dreamlike image of all these character helped to provide the out-of-focus consideration of the narrator's past and what it meant to him now that he was distanced from the city's humanity while establishing a warm and comfortable life by his own hand while surviving in a harsh but natural environment. I cannot praise Petterson's method more highly and how he significantly reached me by his words. The translator also must have done a very good job as I was completely engaged with the book from beginning to end.

Another complaint I have read regarding this novel was there ultimately was no answer given to any question of a memory presented by the narrator, and there rarely is anyway. Generally, acceptance is as much as we can hope for, and that is not by my lights an unacceptable conclusion at all. I was so comfortable not being in the presence of contrived or trite actions, and even the accidental death by leaving a loaded gun in the vicinity of unattended children actually happens all of the time. And nothing was made much of anything, though it typically is, and I found that to be a refreshing method used by Petterson as well.

There is good and bad in everything and Per Petterson skillfully makes use of this fact throughout the entire book. I found the novel not only a page turner, but also a rich and rewarding experience I hope to savor for quite some time. Though this was my first introduction to any work by Per Petterson, I am positive there will be more to come in the very near future. ( )
1 vote MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
A wonderful book about the life story of an old Norwegian Man and his youth in their family´s cabin during the second world war.
The story jumps back and forth between the present and the childhood and it becomes more and more clear that some secrets are lurking in the time span in between.

Per Petterson writes in a calm and unexcited style and thus manages to dip the story in a nice Norwegian mood ... ( )
  takatuka | Jan 19, 2015 |
I suppose this book would be classified as a coming of age story but it is more than that; it is a wonderful evocation of life in rural Norway immediately after the Second World War. It is also a reflection on a life with all the warts exposed.
Trond Sander has been a widower for 3 years and he has recently purchased a small remote cottage to live in year round. He has a dog, Lyra, but other than that his days are spent alone. Then one night he hears his neighbour calling for his dog, Poker, and he goes out to help. Lars Haug also lives alone with just his dog for company but it is more than that which draws the two men together. They first met in the summer of 1948, a summer that was a turning point for both of them.
Trond and his father spent the summer in a cottage near the farm where Lars, his brothers and his mother and father lived. Trond was good friends with Jon, Lars’ oldest brother, and they often spent hours together. The title refers to a day Trond and Jon went across the river to ride horses belonging to the big landowner in the district. They don’t actually steal the horses, just a ride on them.
By the end of the summer everything has changed for Trond but also for Lars and their whole families. It is Trond’s story that is the focus and it is beautifully (and also painfully) told.
This book was translated by Anne Born who, as best I can tell, did a great job of the translation. It still has a flavor of the original Norwegian which is important for the total feel of the book.
Highly recommended. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 6, 2014 |
A lovely, lovely read that is very well written and gives the reader glimpses of the life of a man in his 60s, Trond, who has moved to a village. There is tragedy, sadness and happiness here too but Per Petterson measures very carefully what he tells the reader and does this brilliantly. The novel flits back and forth between 1999 and 1948 and we learn snippets about each of those times. It is an atmospheric and very enjoyable novel.
In 1948, Trond is 15 years old and spending the summer in the country with his father. Trond struggles to understand some of the events that happened to his father and neighbours and as an older man in 1999, he has once again moved to the country to live on his own and when he meets someone from that summer he thinks back to those events in 1948 and tries to make some sense. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
Here is a remarkable novel, one which appears to be about nothing in particular, featuring barely half a dozen characters, several of whom have no names. Hardly anything happens. A boy dies, a man gets shot, another boy is given a new suit, and that, more or less, is that.
Le Norvégien Per Petterson signe un magnifique roman sur les saisons de la vie, sur ces moments qui font que l'on n'est soudain plus le même.
added by NeueWelle | editLibération, Lindon Mathieu (Aug 31, 2006)

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Petterson, Perprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Born, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Born, AnnePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinding, TerjeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verner-Carlsson, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vikhagen, HåvardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Tidlig november.  Klokka er ni.  Kjøttmeisene smeller mot vinduet.  Noen ganger faller de og blir liggende i nysnøen og kave før de kommer seg på vingene igjen.  Jeg veit ikke hva jeg har som de vil ha.

Early November. It's nine o'clock. The titmice are banging against the window.
I listen to the news, cannot break that habit...but it no longer has the same place in my life. It does not affect my view of the world as it once did.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Original Norwegian title: Ut og stjæle hester
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427085, Paperback)

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and oneof the first days of July.

Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day--an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An early morning adventure out stealing horses leads to the tragic death of one boy and a resulting lifetime of guilt and isolation for his friend, in this moving tale about the painful loss of innocence and of traditional ways of life that are gone forever.… (more)

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