Out Stealing Horses: A Novel

Out Stealing Horses: A Novel


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A bestseller and winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, now in paperback from Graywolf Press for the first time

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and oneof the first days of July.

Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day—an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555978440
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 187,452
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(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?

Customer Reviews

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Out Stealing Horses 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 200 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.
txwildflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in a long time. The writing is quite different.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Trond Sander is a 67-year-old widower living with his dog in a remote cabin in Norway. He enjoys the solitude and takes pleasure in small things, like the physical activity associated with chopping wood, walking his dog, or making a meal. As he works, he revisits significant events from his wartime childhood. Events originally seen through the eyes of a child come into sharp focus when seen from his adult perspective: his father's work as a courier for the resistance movement, the devastating impact of a child's death, and the complex relationships between adults in his life. Petterson's writing is terrific; the language is beautiful. He weaves the stories of Trond's present and past together seamlessly. The language has a particular rhythm to it, like waves lapping on the side of a boat. And yet it's also impossible to put down and has a strong emotional pull: I felt extreme sadness for losses in Trond's life, and at the same time I felt the peace and acceptance he had achieved. Highly recommended ... not to be missed.
normaleistiko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable thoughtful reading. The pace is slow because it is really a character development. A rather unusual kind of modern book, not terrifically dramatic yet so familiar, the relationship of one family member to others in his entire life. The pace is relaxing.
emitnick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An old Norwegian man who has gone to live by himself in an isolated rural cottage reminisces about the summer of 1948, which he spent with his dad in a similar cottage. There is a lovely tone to the book - Trond is by no means washed up, and his emotions and perceptions about both long-ago and current happenings are clear-cut and intense. As a young teenager in 1948, Trond becomes aware for the first time of all the secrets grown-ups have, and the mixed frustration and excitement he feels about this is perfectly portrayed. Lovely prose that manages to avoid too much wistfulness - but there is also a distancing quality to the narration that kept me from becoming emotionally involved with Trond's story - hence 3 stars instead of 4.
lesreadmore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Somewhat sad but not depressing. A story of growing up in the shadow of WW II & its fallout into the lives of those who served in the intelligence community and their families. I felt a bit let down by the ending, there seemed to be some disconnect between the story teller as an adolescent & an adult?
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Per Petterson's novel describes the psychological power of an aging man's life review. Looking back at his youth in the context of well-remembered landscapes, Trond rewrites his history with wisdom. He has chosen solitude for this process, mindful of his daily routine and budget of time. The novel is beautifully translated by Anne Borne in a minimalist style reminiscent of Hemingway's work in 'A Farewell to Arms.' The short, declarative phrases are like brush strokes creating small, vivid paintings of the mind and country. The novel stimulates insight and leads the reader into a personal life review. The story is particularly appealing to readers who have accumulated enough experience to look at memories from a new perspective.
posthumose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This won the Dublin Impac Award 2007, the big one cash-wise,100,00 pounds. This prize is chosen by librarians around the world. It also garnered the Norwegian Critic's Award and got on the New York Times 100 Notable Books for 2007. Out Stealing Horses is about boyhood friendship, tragedy and loss, fathers and sons and their expectations of one another. And how the main character deals with loneliness both in his youth and late in life. Well worth reading. A good place to start on Scandinavian literature if you haven't tried any yet.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Trond Sander has removed himself to an isolated cabin to live out the remainder of his lonely life when he comes across a man in the dark and he suddenly remembers all the events of one memorable summer.
fourbears on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My face-to-face bookgroup seemed pretty lukewarm about this one, but I quite enjoyed it. About a man with some bumps in his past, not all of which are clarified in the book who retires to a cottage in rural Norway where one summer in his childhood events took place that he¿s still dealing with. The switching from past to present is evocative and managed with grace. It¿s the sort of book where you disappear into the world of the text.
shadowofthewind on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some great passages:P. 67...and if this had been something in a novel it would have just been iritating. I hacein fact done a lot of reading particularly during the last few years, but earlIer too, by all means, and I have thought about what I've read, and that kind of coincidence seems far-fetched in fiction, in modern novels anyway, and I find it hard to accept. It may be all very well in Dickens, but when you read Dickens you're reading a long ballad from a vanished world, where everything has to come toget er in the end like an equation, where the balance of what was once disturbed must be restored so that the gods can smile again. A consolation, maybe, or a protest against a world gone off the rails, but it is nit like that anymore, my world is not like that, and I have never gone along with those who believe our lives are governed by fate. They whine, they wash their hands and crave pity. I believe we shape our lives ourselves, at any rate I have shaped mine, for what it's worth, and I take responsibility.P. 73People like it when you tell them things, in su table 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 the facts, not feelIngs, not what your ipinion is about anything at all, not how what ha happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into they are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinions and assumptions, and they compose a new life which ha precious little to do wit yours, and that let's you off the hook. No-one can touch you unless you yourself want them to. You inly have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay, because they will talk about you no matter how much you squirm, it is inevitable, and you would do the same thing yourself. P.212"'Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.'"She smiles again and says: 'I always thought those opening lInes were a bit scary because they indicated we would not necessarily be the leading characters of our own lives. I couldn't imagine how that could come about, something so awful; a sort of ghost-life where I could do nothing but watch that person who had taken my place and maybe hate her deeply and envy he everything, but not Be able to do anything about it because at some point in time I had fallen out of my life as if from an aeroplane, I pictured it, and out into empty space, and there I drifted about and could not get back, and someone elsE was sitting fastened into my seat, although that place was mine, and I had the ticket in my hand."