Out Stealing Horses: A Novel

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555974701
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 04/17/2007
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 6.02(w) x 8.39(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Per Petterson is the author of books including In the Wake, To Siberia, and I Curse the River of Time. Out Stealing Horses won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize. The New York Times Book Review named it one of the 10 best books of the year. A former bookseller, Petterson lives in Oslo, Norway.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions
1. "I needed to concentrate," Trond says at the start of the book (pg. 7), explaining his decision to move to the country. Do you think he is happy in his isolation? Is he making a brave choice by withdrawing to the country, as he has always dreamt of doing; or do you think he's fleeing the responsibilities of his life?
2. Soon after Odd is killed, Trond says "I felt it somewhere inside me; a small remnant, a bright yellow speck that perhaps would never leave me." What is it he feels? How does that day stealing horses with Jon, and learning what has happened to Odd, change Trond? Do you see the effects of that loss in him as an older man?
3. Petterson has been widely praised for his descriptions of nature, and of small quiet moments in everyday life. How does his writing make these ordinary moments compelling? Which images of landscapes or domestic scenes remained most vivid in your memory after finishing the book?
4. After his dream at the start of Chapter 5, which leaves him weeping, Trond says, "But then it is not death I fear." Do you believe him? If so, what is he afraid of?
5. How do you think Trond's life would have changed if he had hit the man in Karlstad (pp. 231-
233)? Why does he attach so much significance to that decision?
6. Look at the scene in which Trond's car goes off the road and he sees the lynx in the woods
(pg. 65). At the end of the scene, Trond says "I can't recall when I last felt so alive as when I got the car onto the road again and drove on." Why does a near accident, and the sight of the lynx,
thrill him?
7. Were you surprised by Ellen's reaction to her father when she finds him at the end of the book? Would you be angrier in her position, or more forgiving? Has Trond been unfair to her?
8. How has Trond become like his father, and how has he managed to take a different path?
What parallels do you see between the lives they lead in the book? How is Trond's behavior as an adult influenced by the short time he spent with his father as a young man?
9. Look at the book's final section, after Trond has discovered that his father isn't coming back.
How does his behavior change? Were you surprised by his reaction to the news?
10. How do you think Trond's life will change after the end of the novel? Will he see more of his daughter? Will he and Lars become friends, or will he return to the isolation he had sought out when he moved to the country?
11. Look at Ellen's monologue about the opening lines of David Copperfield (pg. 197). How do you understand the phenomenon she's describing, of not being "the leading characters of our own lives"? Has this happened to anyone you know? Do you think it has happened to Trond? Is it a good or a bad thing?
12. Why do you think Trond's father doesn't tell him the story of the Resistance? Why does he leave it to Franz? How do you think Trond's perception of his father would have changed if his

father had told the story himself?

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Out Stealing Horses 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
TGrey More than 1 year ago
Hats off to Anne Born for a exceptional translation. The beauty of the language and the familiar emotional content in "Out Stealing Horses" is best understood perhaps by those of us who are around the same age as the protagonist, Trond. "Time is important to me now, I tell myself. Not that it pass quickly or slowly but be only Time, be something I live inside and fill with physical things and activities that I can divide it up by,so that it grows distinct to me and does not vanish when I'm not looking." I gasped when I read that because I would never have understood this as a young person and understand it so well now.I read the book through quickly to see what was going to happen and then went back to the beginning and read it all over again.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
Out stealing horses mesmerizes you from page one. With quiet, simple language, Trond T narrates and draws you into the solitude and quietude of the world he inhabits, moving back and forth through time from age 15 to age 67. He spends his fifteenth summer with his dad, Trond Sr., in a cabin located in the Norwegian woods in logging country. It was a summer of discovery, tragedy, familial bonding, friendship and coming of age. Now, in retirement, Trond T has bought his own cabin, in a remote area, and begins renovating his cabin and rediscovering his past. Throughout the book, the secrets of his father's life unfold, as memories are reawakened, quite naturally, with no underlying curiosity or expectation exposing them. They just seem to roll out effortlessly from a character as he/she is introduced, here and there, to enlighten the reader. It is as if you are expected to intuit them because they keep their lives so private and regimented and that when you learn of an incident, you somehow accept it with the same solemn fortitude of the character. The characters do not intrude on the lives of each other, but rather walk around each other lightly, allowing personal space and privacy. There is a calm determination which permeates the story coupled with a fierce stoicism. It was marvelously written and executed. I hated to read the last word. There are so many questions left unanswered to think about.
R_Solvang More than 1 year ago
This was a book I could not put down. It is a book I had to talk over with others so I was thankful I was a member of a book club. The characters are complex. The theme wrestles with the way life can "happen" to a person. How life is what happens when one is making other plans........
I highly recommend the book to people who like introspection, psychology and examining the "human condition."
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the few books that I finished and started reading again. I thought it was beautifully written, the descriptive passages equalled only by Barbara Kingsolver in Poisonwood Bible. It was complex, and challenging to keep the time frame straight but well worth the effort. Don't consider it a 'quick read' it isn't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here are memorably sketched the reminiscences of Trond, an aging hermit, as he looks back on signal events of his childhood. From his cabin on the easterly Norwegian border he recalls seeing a man shot by a Nazi a neighbor boy who accidentally shot his own brother Trond's father's efforts to comfort the grieving mother, an intimacy that now, through the eyes of experience, went beyond simple kindness. Trond has returned to the place of his youth after his wife of many years was killed in a car accident. This extraordinary book is more than a reverie it is the narrator's attempt to link the losses of his life into a chain that might help decode their significance. Here too is prose that matches perfectly a poetic, spare telling, stark as the landscape, to its subject. The result is an emotional cleansing for the reader prepared to let the poetry of the book win him over.
fiftysomething More than 1 year ago
Take your time to really absorb this one! The writing style is minimal yet rich. If you're looking for a great plot you may be disappointed, but that is not why one reads this. It is about relationships and the imperfect lives we lead. If you're looking for a fairy-tale, I believe the author would have you read Dickens. There is no music in the background here, except maybe the beautifully described nature sounds of Norway. If you're on the "back 9" of life you will appreciate this even more.
words_R_beautiful More than 1 year ago
In this beautifully written book the author's compassion for a boy he knew when a youth is mobilized in service of gentling impossible-to-articulate feelings about his own life. Chapter by chapter, unfeeling is peeled away. The protagonist emerges accepting his experiences, emotions, and actions. Events and ideas are painted rather than inculcated so the reader is treated to poetry instead of lecture. Scandinavia beckons from every travel poster while reading this book. The paperback is on good quality paper and the cover art work does the book justice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this book because it had so many good reviews. It truly deserved them. The plot goes back and forth in time, but is smooth and seamless. As the story is slowly revealed, there are surprises. It is not the type of book where you can predict what is going to happen. And really, you don't want to. You just want to enjoy the marvelous writing as the story unfolds. It's a gem.
VPI66 More than 1 year ago
I loved the descriptive nature of this novel. I was disappointed at the ending and still do not understand the purpose of it. If not for that, I would rate this book a 4****.
GrammyXXX More than 1 year ago
This coming of age story is from the perspective of a 67 year old man with flashbacks. It is sometimes difficult to follow because of the ramblings. It is interesting and a good book to read on vacation. My husband bought it when we were in Hawaii and we both read it.
Peetrwabit More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the style of the authors writing and the mix of present and past as he tells of story of and mans life. The authors ability to keep you reading forward helps you get lost in time until you are finished reading. It is not a book you read for weeks - it is a book you read in a day.
Vermontcozy More than 1 year ago
I was taken back on how beautifully written,and detailed this account of WW11 in rural Norway.With the Germans thinking that the local folk are friendly,unassuming,the underground is working day and night smuggling Jews out of harms way.As seen through a boys eyes,and then as a grown man,I was reminded how we must not ever take for granted the Heroes ,whose names we will never know.When we are in the present time and again back in Norway with a grown man,looking back, his life has come full circle..Per Petterson and Anne Born have given life to an amazing story
MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
Norwegian novelist Per Petterson has crafted a magnificently-written, captivating novel that is filled with beauty and emotion. Set in the Norwegian countryside, a man tells his compelling story of how the events of one adolescent summer, in 1948, formed the rest of his life. The narrator, 67 year-old Trond Sander, has chosen to live in quiet solitude in a remote part of Norway. When he discovers his closest neighbor is one of the main participants of that pivotal summer, old memories surface causing him to examine his past. Flashbacks of growing up are interwoven with his tale of growing old. I absolutely loved this poignant book. Each page is overflowing with meaning and insight. The lush descriptions of the Norwegian landscape are vivid and breathtaking. Many enigmas were left unaddressed, leaving me to interpret them. This story left me pondering the influence of the past in my life. It is up to me to decide how circumstances will affect me and how I will react. In addition, it may be necessary to take some action if life starts to cause mental pain. I highly recommend this thought-provoking novel.
mareCA More than 1 year ago
My daughter-in-law, who is a high school literature teacher, recommended this book to me. I enjoyed reading it, altho in some parts, I had to reread because the writer would go to an earlier time in the main character's life without much notice. There were some parts that could have been explained better for me but that was apparently not the writer's intent and I would have opted for a longer story to fit all the pieces together. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it if only to see if another reader got the same out of it as I.
esm More than 1 year ago
Per Petterson has a way of putting thoughts & feelings everyone has probably experienced into a simple & relatable way through his characters.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 29 days ago
A 67-year-old man who recently lost his wife moves out of a busy city to a small country cabin in search of solitude, and, even though he doesn't know it at the time, to come to terms with fateful events of the summer when he was 15. It's a beautifully written book that revolves in the end around a father-son relationship. It found its place on the top ten list of The New York Times best books of 2007. I agree.
msbaba on LibraryThing 29 days ago
Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, is a magnificent gem of a novel. It¿s a contemplative book that slowly builds momentum for the compelling mystery of human suffering at its core. The story is constructed around a bare sliver of a plot, but there is enormous emotional impact in the telling. The prose is deceptively simple, but so vivid with nuanced detail that the reader immediately becomes caught up and lost in the telling. The book takes place in 1999 with frequent flashbacks to 1948. The story concerns Trond Sander, a 67-year-old man coming to terms with his aging body and still grieving three years after the deaths of his wife and sister. Telling no one, not even his two grown daughters, Trond takes his pension and moves to an isolated lakeside cabin in the wilds of northern Norway. There he plans to live out the rest of his life in quiet solitude. He spends his days repairing his ideally situated but ramshackle cabin, taking walks with his beloved dog, absorbing the beauty of nature that fill his senses with pleasure at every turn, and dealing with the mundane necessities of everyday life. He has an acute desire to be alone, and is, in every way, perfectly content with this isolation. Circumstances bring Trond together with one of his neighbors, Lars Haug, another solitary man. It doesn¿t take both men very long to realize that they share a mysterious common heritage of heartache some fifty years earlier when Trond was 15 and Lars was a 10-year-old neighbor boy, the little brother of his close friend Jon. Long dormant memories are awakened, old wounds opened; yet both men avoid discussing their common history of emotional pain.It is this mystery of what really happened between their two families in the summer of 1948 that holds the book together. Slowly, over the course of the novel, bits and pieces of their shared history become known. Petterson artfully chooses to reveal mere tidbits of facts, barely hinting at any deeper emotional impact, always leaving questions unanswered. The author leaves it up to the reader to put the pieces together, and add meaning to the whole. In order to do this, readers must use their own experience to help them supply feelings, opinions and assumptions about each character¿s motivations. This technique is certainly the genius behind this novel: it makes the reader an active participant in the figuring out all the ¿what,¿ how,¿ and ¿why¿ of events. Among any group of readers discussing this book, there will be significant differences in how the events are interpreted and found meaningful. That is why this book has such a profound emotional impact: readers must take it into their hearts and make it meaningful in terms of their own life experiences.There is a lovely passage early in the book when Trond is thinking about his quiet, arms-length assimilation into the village community near his cabin. This passage is noteworthy because it reveals not only a great deal about the main character¿s personality and mature understanding of life, but also lets readers in on how the author plans to reveal Trond¿s story over the course of the novel. In this passage, Trond thinks about his basic interactions with village people and reasons:"People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinions and assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours, and that lets you off the hook" (page 73).So, don¿t be surprised at the end of this book when you find the author doesn¿t put himself on a hook and reveal every crucial detail about how the events actually play out. Enjoy finding your own meaning
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. There were a few parts that seemed it could have done without, but overall it was beautifully done and thoroughly engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
Out Stealing Horses is a sparse, beautiful, and powerful novel. Our protagonist, 67 year old Trond, has moved from Oslo to a small village in the country, where he plans to spend the rest of his life. As he sets about repairing his new home he begins to think back on the course of his life. In a kind of reverse coming-of-age story Trond takes us back to the summer of '48, a summer he spent with his father in another small village in the country. Petterson deftly weaves back and forth through time to slowly unravel this tale, and show us how our pasts inform our futures. The beautiful stream-of-consciousness prose injects a sense of urgency into the narrative, while somehow managing not to disrupt the slow, melancholy tone of the novel. In many ways Out Stealing Horses reminded me of John Banville's The Sea, except it is even more powerful, even more beautiful. I'm not sure I could give this novel higher praise than that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Magical prose -- coming of age and growing old both explored. Felt like i was there in Norway in 1948 .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago