Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fortieth Birthday Post #6: Out Stealing Horses

When the Papercuts blog first appeared, I gobbled it up. BillyBlog readers benefited/suffered as a result.

It was on said web log that I first saw mention of Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses, which had just won an international fiction prize and was relatively unheralded here in the States.

I quickly reserved a copy at the library and grabbed the book when it arrived.

It's a wonderful story set in the twilight of an aging Norwegian man's life. The protagonist, Trond, moves back and forth between three periods of time. The present finds an older narrator struggling to adapt to a life of isolation on the Swedish-Norwegian border.

He flashes back to an earlier time when, when he was 15, and just becoming a man. A series of events involving timber, a tragic accident, and a boyhood escapade, weave together to form a tapestry of a life on the tipping point.

Through a neighbor, Trond also learns of his father's involvement in the Resistance during World War II. All three storylines come together to form a riveting tale, wonderfully narrated and described beautifully. The Norwegian countryside is a character in itself.

I'm posting this as part of my birthday series because I just finished the book yesterday and am carrying one of his earlier novels with me now, the novel In the Wake.

So it seems fitting, no?

This novel really deserves more than what I have given it here, so do check it out.

New York Times Book Review by Thomas McGuane

The first chapter, courtesy of the NY Times, again.

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