Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson

What can I say about a book that has been reviewed already by the likes of Thomas McGuane, and received many prizes, and sold a gazillion copies? I'll be brief; you've probably already read it, or heard about it, but in case you haven't, here is why you should put it at the top of your list.

It is a gorgeous book, written in a spare, eloquent style. Although it's not long, it manages to encompass several lives and many complicated events. I was curious about the translation; it felt almost like broken English, and I wondered if that was the intention. It turns out that the author worked with the translator to craft English sentences in such a way that they would imitate Norwegian. It is successful. The main character also sounds very much like a man in his 60's.

The basic story is that 67 year old Trond, having lost both wife and sister, sets out to live in a remote part of the country, alone. He runs into an acquaintance from his youth, which sets off both recollections and ruminations of the summer he turned 15. So here we have a coming-of-age story, an end-of-life story, and a that-was-the-year-everything-changed story all rolled into one. Set in a magnificent landscape. Read it, it's great.

Here is a wonderful interview with the author. I read it and thought, of course this man wrote this book, it was inevitable.

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