March 9, 2012 by LeVoyageur
In my continuing quest to diminish the large pile of books in my possession which have not been read (so I can go buy another pile of books that will likely haunt me all the same) I have just finished Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. A Norwegian author, Petterson was a bookseller before being published.There is hope for us all… I am generally not an avid reader of contemporary fiction. There is just so much available that choices necessarily have to be made. I don’t want to rely on the intelligentsia to make my reading decisions for me, and I am loathe to do it myself on the fly. Hence, I generally stick to titles that have been ‘curated by time.’
However, occasionally I do pick something up and as Alex bought and enjoyed this book I thought I might as well read it. I would say it is a quick read, with good imagery and character development. Alex said it was meditative. The main character, Trond, is also the narrator and we meet him first as a man in his later years. Trond has come to live in the countryside, alone, to repair an old house around him and by necessity begins to consider the length of his days. We also meet Trond at 15, in the same wilderness, as life is both beginning and rapidly changing for him. From the 1940’s to the 21st century, the narrative splits our imagination as we encounter one individual’s coming of age, in the sense of both youth and elder.
At first I was reading this book in small pieces, short chapter by short chapter. Then yesterday I was on the train for several hours and read the second half in one go. There is something very satisfying in doing that, especially when the work has a good tale to tell and does it well, as was the case with Out Stealing Horses. I would not say there was deep meaning in this book, but a wise message all the same. I recommend.