Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Out Stealing Horses

I never write about truly current books, because I don't read books that way. I find them, usually in second hand stores, and buy them because I remember reading or hearing they were good, or because I know the author's work or because of the jacket blurb and sometimes because I want to read something from the author's country [which isn't, in those cases, the US] Out Stealing Horses has been on my to-read shelf for a few years. I read a later novel by Per Petterson first and was only mildly impressed -- it had the wintery chill I think of as particularly Scandinavian [he is Norwegian] and which I find in most Bergman movies and in Ibsen's plays [and of course the bleak Strindberg's]. But I like the feeling of getting to essentials that I get from Scandinavian writers and the blazes of warmth and sunshine that come with the long, long summer days. This book won major prizes and acclaim in Europe and America five or six years ago. Most deservedly. From the first simple but reverberant scene when Trond Sandler, a 67 year old retiree, steps out of his barely livable cabin on a dark night to investigate a sound his neighbor is making, to the unfolding of his memories especially about a summer when he was 15 in 1948 and this neighbor was a neighbor then as well, Petterson tells a story in powerful scenes, both memories and present time. His writing has the assurance of a story teller who trusts the reader to make connections.

I'm rather tired of the too-popular "boy grows into man" genre,"girl into woman" as well. I'm actually much more interested in what people do with their lives when they are adults. Nevertheless, Petterson's writing is so compelling I will remember it, and especially remember it's author, for a long time to come.

1 comment:

Kass said...

Nice review. If for no other reason, I would probably pick this book up for the title.