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Ut og stjæle hester by Per Petterson

Ut og stjæle hester (original 2003; edition 2006)

by Per Petterson

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3,4232181,578 (3.93)354
Title:Ut og stjæle hester
Authors:Per Petterson
Info:Oslo Oktober 2003
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, eier, read, norwegian literature

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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (2003)

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English (201)  Dutch (5)  Danish (3)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (218)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
A solid 5-star, well-written book -- one I hope to read again in coming years with the same (or different!) sense of awe. I am a long-time fan of Per Petterson's works, and I've saved this one -- clearly his masterpiece judging by the jacket reviews -- for a couple of years while enjoying and checking off his "lesser" novels.

I brought Out Stealing Horses to Norway on vacation -- a perfect book for cafe reading in Oslo, I thought. But it began slowly, proceeded slowly, and I brought it back home having very unenthusiastically finished just the first two chapters in fits and starts. Uh-oh, classic signs of an agonizing slog ahead! Oslo itself plays a small but important role in the novel, so maybe that's why it was impossible for me to get into the book while there?

Several days after returning home from vacation, I started over, free of urban Norwegian distractions, and I fell into Petterson's storytelling rhythm. The book rarely picks up the pace -- it's a slow-burn story, meandering ponies instead of galloping thoroughbreds. If you don't care for that sort of thing, keep browsing. But once I got past the first 30 pages, I found the turns of phrase, the protagonist's a-ha observations, the various heartbreaking, life-shattering moments and the sad/beautiful conclusion all effective and entertaining despite (because of?) the glacial pacing. In fact, quite a lot happens over the course of 238 pages -- but just a few key moments play out quickly (thrillingly! breathlessly!), the way out-of-control events can overwhelm us, shaking us out of the comfort zone of an otherwise ordinary life. When those moments arrived in the story, I was riveted.

There are many worthy plot summaries elsewhere; I will toss out a few themes as a nod to the amateur reviewer's time-honored practice of helpfully boiling down complex works to just a few bullet points.

- It's a coming-of-age story: Trond, the 67-year-old central character, reviews his life, mainly returning to the summer he was 15. The events of that year defined him -- in ways he still struggles to understand decades later.

- It's a Norway story: Winter is coming (!) and a lack of preparation equals suffering, if not certain death. It's also a lone man's meditation on choosing to live alone in a remote area. But the threat of being snowed in -- cut off from civilization, food, and supplies -- is paramount.

- It's a World War II story: Norway's occupation during World War II is not the main theme or time period of the novel, but the characters' fates are absolutely affected by events and choices made during and immediately after the war.

- It's full of surprising appearances and disappearances. There are not a lot of characters in the book. But a fair number of friends, neighbors and family members die or leave -- or arrive -- when least expected.

- Yes, there are horses -- the same two horses, it turns out, at the beginning and the end of the novel. But a lot happens in between the two rides, thanks to artfully deployed flashbacks.

- Out stealing horses: "You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means." (In fact, nearly all the words mean something else, since I read the original Norwegian novel in an English translation.)

As with any rich work, this one is actually about pain and suffering. It is also about choices, and whether we truly make them or have them thrust upon us by others. Trond, the narrator, recalls a time in childhood when his father assigned him the task of picking thistles out of their yard. He complied, but stopped well before finishing the job because it hurt so much without gloves. His father reached out bare-handed and grabbed bunches of thistles without showing any sign of discomfort. After a while, he leaned over and gave his son what was clearly intended as valuable advice: "You decide when it hurts." ( )
  joecanas | Aug 28, 2016 |
I think this is a book that deserves to be savoured rather than dipping in and out of it over too long a period like I did. I enjoyed the beautiful writing and the slow, quiet pace of the book which would normally tick all my 'book love' boxes, but somehow it didn't grab me as much as it seems to have grabbed everyone else.

I definitely think this is partly attributable to reading it during a particularly busy and distracted few weeks. Days elapsed in between snatched readings, and I think I lost something from my reading experience as a result.

Essentially this is a tale of a man in his 60s who has taken himself off to a cabin in a semi-remote part of Norway to live out the rest of his days in peace and simplicity away from the emotional pressures of family and life in general. His nearest neighbour turns out to randomly be an acquaintance from his childhood, which stirs up many long stored away memories, some idyllic, others difficult.

I enjoyed the chapters returning to his childhood, but felt that a few potentially gripping story threads fell a little flat in the end. I appreciate that the author was deliberately wanting to leave some loose ends, but it felt a little like getting engrossed in a newspaper article only to find the concluding page is missing.

There were interesting emotions and feelings at play, but these were written in a male Men-Are-From-Mars-don't-dwell-on-your-emotions-too-much kind of way, and as a result I didn't empathise with the main protagonist as much as I could have done.

4 stars - worth a read, but by the end of the year I feel I'll have forgotten much about it. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Jul 26, 2016 |
Atmospheric but timelines a little too jumbled for my liking ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
This is a quiet but deep book about an older man who leaves his life and family behind to retire to a cabin in the country in Norway. A chance encounter with a neighbor who he knows from his childhood brings up all sorts of memories, mainly of his father and a summer they spent together in the country during 1948 when he was a teenager.

The book meanders through Trond's memories and his current thoughts about aging and craving solitude. I thought the writing was beautifully paced and a good mix of introspective and intriguing. In this book, I liked the things that the author left unexplained or only hinted at. I think it's a book I'll be thinking about for quite a while. ( )
  japaul22 | Feb 27, 2016 |
Per Petterson is swiftly becoming a favorite author, I love his writing style and his themes. His stories make me nostalgic, which is odd because I haven't experienced the micro things that he's discussing, although on the macro level 'loss' is obviously a universal subject.

He handled the central secret of this book so perfectly, i.e. obliquely and left unresolved, that I felt the kind of contented happiness after finishing it that is unusual for me. I only wish I could write this way and with this much control. I managed to find a translation of his first book on OCLC so I have that pleasure to look forward to now! ( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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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Für Trond T.
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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:40 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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