Reviews for Out Stealing Horses
Booklist Reviews 2007 June #1
*Starred Review* Three years after his wife's accidental death, Trond Sander, 67, settles into an isolated cabin near Norway's southeastern border with Sweden. It's where he last saw his father at the end of summer 1948. Then 15 and full grown, Trond helped harvest the timber--too early, perhaps, but necessarily, it came to seem later. He also suddenly lost his local best friend, Jon, when, after an early morning spent "stealing horses"--that is, taking an equine joyride--Jon inadvertently allowed a gun accident that killed one of his 10-year-old twin brothers and guiltily ran away to sea. When that summer was over, Trond went back to Oslo, but his father stayed with Jon's mother, his lover since they met in the Resistance during World War II. Segueing with aplomb between his present and past, Trond's own narration is literarily distinguished, arguably to a fault; would a businessman, even one who loves Dickens, write this well? The novel's incidents and lush but precise descriptions of forest and river, rain and snow, sunlight and night skies are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 May #1
An aging loner remembers a childhood summer that marked a lifetime of loss. Fifteen-year-old Trond, spending the summer of 1948 with his father, away from their Oslo home in a cabin in the easternmost region of Norway, wakes to an invitation from his friend, Jon, to "steal" their neighbor's horses for an early-morning joy ride. But what Trond doesn't yet know is that the ride is Jon's farewell to him. The day before, when Jon was supposed to be minding his young twin brothers, Lars and Odd, Lars found Jon's prized gun and, imitating his older brother, accidentally killed his twin. Nearly 60 years later, Trond has returned to the rustic region after a devastating car accident that killed his wife and left him gravely injured, hoping to live out the rest of his days quietly, with his dog as his only companion. But late one night, he has a chance encounter with his only neighbor, an aging man named Lars. Trond realizes that this neighbor is his childhood friend's younger brother, and their meeting causes him to remember not only the morning of the horse theft, but the rest of the summer as well. After Jon's disappearance, Trond spends the summer working with his father to send lumber down the river to the Swedish border, ostensibly the reason for their retreat. He is stunned to learn that his father is having an affair with Jon's grieving mother, also the object of Trond's own first intimate moment. As Trond begins to talk to the other workers, he also realizes that his father has had complicated reasons for spending much of the war years in the eastern region of the country, close to Sweden's neutral borders. He even learns that the phrase "out stealing horses," which he had tossed around casually with his friend, has a meaning that reaches beyond their childhood pranks. Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake, 2006, etc.) an undeniably authoritative presence. Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2007 May #2
Sixty-seven-year-old Trond Sander lives alone with his dog in a remote cabin in easternmost Norway. He hopes this isolation will help him take life one step at a time after the deaths of both his sister and his wife three years ago. This peaceful solitude is broken by the appearance of his only neighbor out looking for his dog. Meeting Lars, a boyhood friend Trond hasn't seen in 50 years, brings forth a multitude of memories. In flashback, the story centers on the summer of 1948, three years after the German occupiers left. The defining moment in those memories was when Lars, at age ten, accidentally shot his twin brother with a hunting gun. Now Trond's daily routines mask other unresolved tensions from his boyhood: his passionate feelings for Lars's mother, his father's role in the resistance in 1944 and later abandonment of the family, and his own estrangement from his daughters. Petterson (In the Wake ) has established his reputation abroad, winning several international prizes including the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, but he deserves critical acclaim here as well. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.--Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO [Page 84]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #2
Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who "pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent." Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. (June) [Page 32]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.