15 August 2009

55. Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson

This book was recommended by a friend a while ago. I decided to read it because it almost fell off the shelf and landed on my foot.

I have never read a book written by a Norwegian before.

This book was quite good for the descriptiveness of the writing. It describes the Norwegian countryside beautifully. I could picture the cottages and the rivers set amongst the trees. It must be a beautiful place.

Another thing I liked about the book was that it really never went anywhere. I have so many unanswered questions. What happened to John's father after he broke his leg? Did Trond and Lars ever discuss the past? Did Trond and his daughter ever see each other again? Did Trond's father and Jon's mother end up together? What happened between them during the war? Why did Lars's just walk away and leave the farm with Jon when he came home? Why did Trond not tell his daughters where he was going when he moved away? A million questions.....and I like that there are no answers.

Why? I will make a feeble attempt to explain.

This book is not about the story. The "plot" as I see it is within the old man himself. He has lived to be 67 years old, has lost his wife and mother, and has gone to a remote cabin to seek solitude. He finds that solitude, and the thoughts on his life that come along with looking inward when one is alone.

This book is about the old man coping with his new surroundings while reflecting on the memories of his youth. He did not have all the answers. He only had the knowledge from his own experiences and the book did not go beyond that knowledge. This book was about the man, and not the story.

After I read Falkner's book my sister-in-law said something to the effect of letting the words wash over you rather than reading for the story. I tried to do that with this book. I let the words move me and got into the man's world rather than wondering what would happen next. It worked very well and was quite enjoyable. This was easy to do with this book because even when the past was "reenacted" it was done within the framework of Trond, the old man, remembering the events rather than zipping the reader back to that time and living through it again. The old dude's recollection of the events as they unfolded even had gaps because he did not understand some things. He was only fifteen years old during the events being recalled. He also only had his own perspective to draw upon.

It was quite interesting to read and a very well written book. I am glad someone took the time to translate and publish it in English.

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