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Out Stealing Horses: A Novel by Per…

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Per Petterson, Anne Born (Translator)

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3,5082221,511 (3.94)364
Title:Out Stealing Horses: A Novel
Authors:Per Petterson
Other authors:Anne Born (Translator)
Info:Picador (2008), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Adele's book group selection, owned and donated
Tags:Feb. '09 book group, Norway

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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (2003)


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English (205)  Dutch (5)  Danish (3)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All (222)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
This was even better the second time. I think I picked up more on the importance of Trond's mother to the conclusion of the novel than I did the first time reading it. It's a wonderful portrayal of adolescence and our frustrating inability to understand and articulate our own desires at times. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
This is a wonderfully told story and the setting is so refreshing, becoming a character itself. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 1, 2017 |
Silence In a World Full of Sound: "Pferde Stehlen" by Per Petterson Published 2006.
“Eigentlich wollte ich nur noch schlafen. Ich achte sehr auf die Stunden, die ich zum Schlafen brauche, es sind nicht mehr so viele, aber ich brauche sie ganz anders als früher. Eine Nacht ohne ausreichend Schlaf wirft noch tagelang Schlagschatten, macht mich reizbar und bremst meinen Schwung. Dazu fehlt mir die Zeit. Ich muss mich konzentrieren. Dennoch setzte ich mich wieder auf, schwang die Beine aus dem Bett, stellte die Fusse auf den Boden und suchte im Dunkeln nach meinen Kleidern, die über dem Rücken eines Sprossenstuhls hingen. Ich hielt die Luft an, als ich merkte, wie kalt sie waren. Dann lief ich durch die Küche in den Gang, zog die alte Seemannsjacke über, nahm die Taschenlampe vom Brett an der Wand und ging hinaus auf die Treppe. Es war stockdunkel. Ich machte die Tür noch einmal auf und schaltete die Aussenbeleuchtung an. Das half. Die rote Wand des Gerätschuppens warf einen warmen Wiederschein auf den Hof.” (Page 13)
My loose translation:
(All I wanted was to sleep. I have focused my attention on the hours I get, and although they are not many, I need them in a completely different way than before. A night without enough sleep throws dark shadows for many days ahead and makes me crabby and slows my drive. I have no time for that. I need to concentrate. Nevertheless, I sat up in bed again, swung my legs in the pitch black to the floor and found my clothes over the back of the post chair. I gasped when I felt how cold they were. Then I went through the kitchen and into the hall and pulled on my old nautical jacket, took the torch from the shelf and went out onto the steps. It was pitch black. I opened the door again, and switched on the outside light. That helped. The red-painted utility shed wall threw a warm glow across the yard.)
I confess. I’m not able to write about this novel. If you're into reading an attempt at writing a quasi-review, read the rest on my blog. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
I was captured by the voice and tone of this novel, one that does not reach a climax at the end but one which shows more how unresolved things are in life.

Petterson structured this novel so that the two or three plot strands, Resistance in the Second World War, the narrator’s summer with his father and Trond’s subsequent solitary life as a 67 year old mesh unjarringly.

There’s not a lot of dialogue and I think that helps to give this book its rather sombre tone – that and the way we discover Trond’s father has abandoned his family and that the narrator himself subsequently dos much the same. We are led to see their selfishness, the damage they do to their families but at the same time we see them in a positive light. Petterson creates this duality really well – and I like the more subtle ways in which he does it, for example in the way Trond treats his dog. Frequently the formal, intransigent relationship he has with his dog is shown as if to indicate his own stubbornessas well as his love: ‘I go first and she follows when she is told. I am the boss, we both know that, but she is happy to wait because she knows our system too and smiles as only a dog can smile and jumps a good metre into the air straight up and out over the whole flight of steps when I quietly say: Come on! She lands almost in my arms, standing. She still has the puppy inside her’ and later ‘I open the door and Lyra stays on the doorstep until both Ellen and I are in the hall. Then I let her in with a small well-drilled gesture’.

The other aspect of the duality is seen in the sudden anger Trond feels both as a fifteen year old when he so nearly punches a man who doesn’t give him directions to the sixty-seven year old who abruptly feels very put out by his daughter finding where he has hidden himsef away: ‘I suddenly feel angry and slightly sick, and I see my hand is shaking, so I keep myself at an angle to hide it from her when I pass her to fetch sugar and milk and blue napkins and all that is needed to make this into a meal. I really had my fill a couple of hours ago and am not hungry yet, but even so I set out enough for the both of us, as she might feel embarrassed sitting there eating on her own’. It’s the second part of this that shows his enduring consideration for others though the way he doesn’t support his ‘heavy’ deserted mother is another sign of some callousness.

I think the reader can relate to the older Trond in his rejection of urban living and even perhaps in his distrust of others: ‘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. No-one can touch you unless you yourself want them to. You only have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay . . .’ Then there’s what he says about television: ‘I did not bring a television set out here with me, and I regret it sometimes when the evenings get long, but my idea was that living alone you can soon get stuck to those
flickering images and to the chair you will sit on far into the night, and then time merely passes as you let others do the moving. I do not want that. I will keep myself company’.

While this is what I’d call a subdued novel, there are sudden revelations that surprise the reader such as when Trond thinks about the way he learned skills from his father: ‘And the person observing is me, and the man I am watching, his movements and skills, is a man of barely forty, as my father was when I saw him for the last time when I was fifteen, and he vanished from my life forever’. This is the first time we hear that his father dropped out of his life and we don’t know why or how and the revelation is only thrown in in passing. Similarly we only learn that his first marriage ended in divorce when he’s talking about clothing from that time – and we hear no more about it – another of the unexamined threads in the story, the main one being how could his father just abandon him?

The only reservation I have about this novel is in some of the grammar and I wonder if this is a reflection of the original or something brought in by the translation. Often sentences are run together and sometimes the prose just seems awkward. Some examples: ‘I feel hungry now, working with the wood has sharpened my appetite.’ This naturally does come together but a semi-colon would be more appropriate. More clumsy is: ‘For it is true it’s getting cold in here, and at the same time I’m a bit surprised that he should take charge in my house and in that way have an opinion about how I do things, I would never have done that myself, but he did ask first, so I guess it is alright’, the run-on sentence just making the whole thing too long while ‘although I should have liked to I was not awake long enough to see if he actually did close his eyes before the morning came’ lacks a comma which would have made it more fluent.

On the other hand there are many phrases which reverberate such as ‘One of my many horrors is to become the man with the frayed jacket and unfastened flies standing at the Co-op counter with egg on his shirt and more too because the mirror in the hall has given up the ghost. A shipwrecked man without an anchor in the world except in his own liquid thoughts where time has lost its sequence’ and, remembering the horses he and Jon aimed to illicitly ride: ‘We smelled the horse droppings and the wet boggy moss and the sweet, sharp, all-pervading odour of something greater than ourselves and beyond our comprehension’.

So, an impressive book which has me ordering Petterson’s ‘I refuse’ with some anticipation. ( )
  evening | Nov 18, 2016 |
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." ( )
1 vote joecanas | Aug 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
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.
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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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