Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out Stealing Horses

Happy 2012!  May your year be filled with adventure, laughter and love.  If you're lucky, you'll get some good books in there, too.

Out Stealing Horses was an unexpected treat - I chanced upon it, decided to read it based on nothing but the review excerpts on the back and very much enjoyed it.  It's written by Per Petterson, who is something of a star Norwegian author, if such a thing is even possible, and was translated into English by Anne Born in 2007 to rave reviews.  I expect we'll see even greater future successes from this author/translator team.

The book tells of Trond Sander, a man approaching 70 who decides to move to a rustic cabin in remote eastern Norway.  He views the place as something of a fixer-upper, and plans to spend his days methodically preparing for the coming winter and the years beyond.  A chance encounter with a neighbor sets Trond into reminiscing about his summer of 1948, the last he spent with his beloved father.

Trond's friend Jon appeared on the doorstep most mornings with the day's plan of action in his head.  He was a couple of years older than Trond, and a local in the small town that Trond and his father were staying in this particular summer.  The two friends shared moments of adventure, but rarely spoke of anything consequential.  The days in this river town were spent in physical work and the enjoyment of nature.  As the summer progressed, Trond found himself discovering more of his father's life and secrets than he perhaps ever wished to do.

The parallel struggles of Trond and his neighbor preparing for winter, intertwined with Trond's recollection of that summer, tell twin stories of loss and yearning.  Petterson's prose is sparse, pointed and captivating.  Out Stealing Horses is a lovely book, one where the enjoyment lies as much in the language itself as it does in the plot.

Next up: Gervase, a very short novel written by Ann Moray, one of Joker's grandmother's dear friends.  I understand that it's about a stag, which seems particularly fun to read living among Evergreen's elk!

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