The Arts, Etc.

Out Stealing Horses

A Novel by Per Petterson
Translated from the Norwegian by Ann Born

Reviewed by Emma Harran

    Before I had read to the bottom of the first page of Out Stealing Horses, I was hooked. Eudora Welty was partly responsible. I'd been reading some of her delicious rambling prose - that Southern thing of getting into all the corners that Eudora Welty does so well - and I was primed for a crisper style, one with less humidity. Out Stealing Horses, a Christmas gift, came along at just the right time.

    On the third page, I read this: "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."

    This is Trond Sander's story that he tells in a conversational tone, weaving back and forth among his memories and the present. His eye for details fleshes out what is found just beyond the arena where life races or meanders or stops stock still for the boy Trond or the man he becomes to make sense out of what he's known. A contemplative book, yes, accented with detailed accounts of high drama and suspense.

    My paperback copy features 20 complimentary blurbs plus accolades from the proud 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."

    Who, interestingly enough, has written five novels and won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize. A former librarian and bookseller, Petterson lives in Oslo, Norway.

    ISBN-13: 978-0-312-42708-5
    ISBN-10: 0-312-42708-5
    Copyright 2003, Per Petterson


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