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Out Stealing Horses: A Novel

by

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9781555974701
ISBN10: 1555974708
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Winner of the 2007 Impac Dublin Award

Staff Pick

How we translate our past actions and experiences is at least as important as those actions and experiences themselves. Out Stealing Horses, itself superbly translated from the Norwegian, follows the arc of Trond Sander's life as he reflects during a quiet retirement on the violent summer that marked his coming of age. Forced to confront a long-avoided past, he finally deliberates on the adolescent loss, aching beauty, and harrowing grief that underpinned his adulthood. With finely drawn characters, a stark natural setting, and haunting minimalist prose, this quiet, powerful, and spare novel of acceptance is a meditative tale for all.
Recommended by Brodie, Powells.com

As a 67-year-old, Trond moves to an isolated part of Norway to live out the rest of his life quietly. After meeting his closest neighbor, he is forced to confront things from his youth that he'd spent years avoiding. Petterson writes beautifully of inner and outer struggles, of confusion, pain, and paths we can choose to go down or not. While Trond's voice is very matter-of-fact and Petterson is straightforward in his telling, there are layers that continue to be pulled back until the last page. This story is specific to time and place, but it is also an everyman's tale of love, death, loss, and time continuing on.
Recommended by Brodie, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"It's a masculine and spare story, and Petterson tells it in sentences stripped of emotion and literary pretense....The style befits not only the stark Norwegian landscape, but it's perfectly befitting a man as emotionally distant as Trond." Peter Martin, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 one of 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.

Review:

"Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who 'pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent.' Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[R]emarkable....Now and then a book comes along that deserves the label 'classic.' Out Stealing Horses is in that class, a rough woodcut that portrays the very mystery of life itself." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"Petterson captures perfectly the flavor of adolescence." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"This short yet spacious and powerful book...reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and Uwe Timm." Thomas McGuane, New York Times

Review:

"The novel's incidents and lush but precise descriptions...are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too." Booklist

Review:

"Petterson has established his reputation abroad, winning several international prizes...but he deserves critical acclaim here as well. Highly recommended for all fiction collections." Library Journal

Review:

"American readers should feel fortunate to have this beautiful translation of Petterson's work; finally, we are given the opportunity to step inside his graceful, deeply felt universe." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson an undeniably authoritative presence." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

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 gone forever.

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

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.

Tronds 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.

Per Petterson, author of In the Wake (published by Picador), has written five novels, which have established his reputation as one of Norway's best fiction writers. Out Stealing Horses has won the Norwegian Bookseller's Prize, the Critics' Award for best novel, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
 
Anne Born, poet, critic, and historian, has translated many works from the principal Scandinavian languages into English, including two previous novel by Per Petterson.
Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
 
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.

At age sixty-seven, Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated part of eastern Norway to liv the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake) an undeniably authoritative presence."—Kirkus Reviews

"In this quiet but compelling novel, Trond Sander, a widower nearing seventy, moves to a bare house in remote eastern Norway, seeking the life of quiet contemplation that he has always longed for. A chance encounter with a neighbor—the brother, as it happens, of his childhood friend Jon—causes him to ruminate on the summer of 1948, the last he spent with his adored father, who abandoned the family soon afterward. Trond's recollections center on a single afternoon, when he and Jon set out to take some horses from a nearby farm; what began as an exhilarating adventure ended abruptly and traumatically in an act of unexpected cruelty. Pettersons spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Trond's childhood and adult perspectives. Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boys perception, but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man."—The New Yorker

"Among the agreeable surprises of Per Petterson's novel is the misleading suggestion that the modesty of his narrator's voice foretells a tale of minor events, an account of the sort of photorealism that prevents anything from happening. In fact, the book contains some bold, convincingly states coincidences well outside the range of our highbrow realists . . . The characters living and dead are equally palpable, another small wonder of Out Stealing Horses . . . This short yet spacious and powerful book—in such contrast to the well-larded garrulity of the bulbous American novel today—reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J.M. Coetzee, W.G. Sebald and Uwe Timm. Petterson's kinship with Knut Hamsun, which he has himself acknowledged, is palpable in Hamsun's Pan, Victoria, and even the lighthearted Dreamers. But nothing should suggest that his superb novel is so embedded in its sources as to be less than a gripping account of such originality as to expand the reader's own experience of life."—Thomas McGuane, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

 
"An outsider has galloped through the field to take this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize—but what an outsider, and what a field! . . . This is a novel that strikes deep and lingers long . . . like some shattering literary symphony . . . Out Stealing Horses stole our hearts."—The Independent

 

"Out Stealing Horses is tinged with an autumnal sense of loss and the self-examination of an old man looking back on his life . . . This book is a minor masterpiece of death and delusion in a Nordic land."—The Guardian

 

"A special miracle of a book . . . The genius of this beautiful, candid work lies in its tone of gentle, if at times angry, reflection. There is no sentimentality, no easy nostalgia, only truths and an honest response to experience."—The Irish Times

 

"I was completely taken with Out Stealing Horses from the first page. I found it powerful yet so quietly done I could hear myself breathe and I finished with an exhalation of awe."—Amy Tan

 

"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake) an undeniably authoritative presence."—Kirkus Reviews

 

"Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who 'pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent.' Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Per Petterson has written five novels, which have established his reputation as one of Norway's best fiction writers. Out Stealing Horses won the Norwegian Booksellers Prize, the Critics Award for best novel, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

Denise Showers, March 22, 2011 (view all comments by Denise Showers)
Someone said this novel reads like a long short story, and that it does; the rhythm of the narrator's present moment and past reflection move together like slow, parallel glissandi on a well-tuned piano.

As a reflective composition ought to do, the two parts often merge in a way that some readers have found jarring. I submit that they are working too hard.

A Norwegian pensioner living out his days in a newly-purchased cabin, full enough of fixer-challenges to fill his days and occupy his head, finds himself face-to-face in the night with a past he has not retired to these woods to mull. A story that seemed like a pastoral reflection on a summer spent with a dad becomes complex and musky with adolescent awakening and a secret history of resistance against the Germans.

If the reader opens several chapters mixed-up about in which time and place we find ourselves, it is deliberate on the author's part, but not for its own sake: Trond, the protagonist, is beginning to have trouble discerning one from the other himself.

Terrible things have happened, but Trond has learned that "you decide when it hurts," and the sudden absence of the one friend his own age back in that woods of adolescence urges Trond toward a manhood he had not come there to find, that is, youth in the company of burly woodsmen with secretly heroic pasts and other secrets men's children are not meant to know, but often do.

If today Trond works his own land with a gas-powered chain saw (but has he bought the "right" brand for the neighborhood?), at fourteen or fifteen he has cleared an entire parcel alongside strong men with tools powered by brawn alone -- brawn, and the knowledge that "You decide when it hurts." And so we see relatively simple challenges -- who will clear the snow from the elder Trond's long driveway when winter sets in? -- as real enough, but pale, against the gigantic achievements of that long-ago and final summer with a dad. And yet the outlines of the new challenges are acute and solid.

To love this story, one must be willing to settle in and simply occupy the physical and temporal spaces Petterson creates, so similar, so distinct, and trust that the payoff will come. It does.





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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
mgreiner, April 14, 2008 (view all comments by mgreiner)
Although I had a negative reaction to the title, the review I read was intriguing. How glad I am that I didn't judge this book "by the cover." Petterson tells an engaging story, from the point of view of an older Trond and his young self. Most of the action occurs in a rural Norway, and is a mix of tragic, heroic, amusing, and romantic moments. Well worth the time to read this short and engaging novel.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(17 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)
reader 1950, January 19, 2008 (view all comments by reader 1950)
I found this book satisfying, pleasurable, and memorable. Its style, story, atmosphere, and authenticity are strong.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781555974701
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Petterson, Per
Translator:
Born, Anne
Author:
Born, Anne
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Social isolation
Subject:
Norway
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
April 17, 2007
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
250
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Out Stealing Horses: A Novel Used Hardcover
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Product details 250 pages Graywolf Press - English 9781555974701 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

How we translate our past actions and experiences is at least as important as those actions and experiences themselves. Out Stealing Horses, itself superbly translated from the Norwegian, follows the arc of Trond Sander's life as he reflects during a quiet retirement on the violent summer that marked his coming of age. Forced to confront a long-avoided past, he finally deliberates on the adolescent loss, aching beauty, and harrowing grief that underpinned his adulthood. With finely drawn characters, a stark natural setting, and haunting minimalist prose, this quiet, powerful, and spare novel of acceptance is a meditative tale for all.

"Staff Pick" by ,

As a 67-year-old, Trond moves to an isolated part of Norway to live out the rest of his life quietly. After meeting his closest neighbor, he is forced to confront things from his youth that he'd spent years avoiding. Petterson writes beautifully of inner and outer struggles, of confusion, pain, and paths we can choose to go down or not. While Trond's voice is very matter-of-fact and Petterson is straightforward in his telling, there are layers that continue to be pulled back until the last page. This story is specific to time and place, but it is also an everyman's tale of love, death, loss, and time continuing on.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who 'pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent.' Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "It's a masculine and spare story, and Petterson tells it in sentences stripped of emotion and literary pretense....The style befits not only the stark Norwegian landscape, but it's perfectly befitting a man as emotionally distant as Trond." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "[R]emarkable....Now and then a book comes along that deserves the label 'classic.' Out Stealing Horses is in that class, a rough woodcut that portrays the very mystery of life itself."
"Review" by , "Petterson captures perfectly the flavor of adolescence."
"Review" by , "This short yet spacious and powerful book...reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and Uwe Timm."
"Review" by , "The novel's incidents and lush but precise descriptions...are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too."
"Review" by , "Petterson has established his reputation abroad, winning several international prizes...but he deserves critical acclaim here as well. Highly recommended for all fiction collections."
"Review" by , "American readers should feel fortunate to have this beautiful translation of Petterson's work; finally, we are given the opportunity to step inside his graceful, deeply felt universe."
"Review" by , "Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson an undeniably authoritative presence."
"Synopsis" by , 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 gone forever.
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

"Synopsis" by ,
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.

Tronds 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.

Per Petterson, author of In the Wake (published by Picador), has written five novels, which have established his reputation as one of Norway's best fiction writers. Out Stealing Horses has won the Norwegian Bookseller's Prize, the Critics' Award for best novel, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
 
Anne Born, poet, critic, and historian, has translated many works from the principal Scandinavian languages into English, including two previous novel by Per Petterson.
Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
 
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.

At age sixty-seven, Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated part of eastern Norway to liv the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake) an undeniably authoritative presence."—Kirkus Reviews

"In this quiet but compelling novel, Trond Sander, a widower nearing seventy, moves to a bare house in remote eastern Norway, seeking the life of quiet contemplation that he has always longed for. A chance encounter with a neighbor—the brother, as it happens, of his childhood friend Jon—causes him to ruminate on the summer of 1948, the last he spent with his adored father, who abandoned the family soon afterward. Trond's recollections center on a single afternoon, when he and Jon set out to take some horses from a nearby farm; what began as an exhilarating adventure ended abruptly and traumatically in an act of unexpected cruelty. Pettersons spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Trond's childhood and adult perspectives. Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boys perception, but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man."—The New Yorker

"Among the agreeable surprises of Per Petterson's novel is the misleading suggestion that the modesty of his narrator's voice foretells a tale of minor events, an account of the sort of photorealism that prevents anything from happening. In fact, the book contains some bold, convincingly states coincidences well outside the range of our highbrow realists . . . The characters living and dead are equally palpable, another small wonder of Out Stealing Horses . . . This short yet spacious and powerful book—in such contrast to the well-larded garrulity of the bulbous American novel today—reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J.M. Coetzee, W.G. Sebald and Uwe Timm. Petterson's kinship with Knut Hamsun, which he has himself acknowledged, is palpable in Hamsun's Pan, Victoria, and even the lighthearted Dreamers. But nothing should suggest that his superb novel is so embedded in its sources as to be less than a gripping account of such originality as to expand the reader's own experience of life."—Thomas McGuane, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

 
"An outsider has galloped through the field to take this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize—but what an outsider, and what a field! . . . This is a novel that strikes deep and lingers long . . . like some shattering literary symphony . . . Out Stealing Horses stole our hearts."—The Independent

 

"Out Stealing Horses is tinged with an autumnal sense of loss and the self-examination of an old man looking back on his life . . . This book is a minor masterpiece of death and delusion in a Nordic land."—The Guardian

 

"A special miracle of a book . . . The genius of this beautiful, candid work lies in its tone of gentle, if at times angry, reflection. There is no sentimentality, no easy nostalgia, only truths and an honest response to experience."—The Irish Times

 

"I was completely taken with Out Stealing Horses from the first page. I found it powerful yet so quietly done I could hear myself breathe and I finished with an exhalation of awe."—Amy Tan

 

"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake) an undeniably authoritative presence."—Kirkus Reviews

 

"Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who 'pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent.' Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra."—Publishers Weekly

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