Donna's Reviews > Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
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Sep 29, 11

Read in September, 2011

We have had a death in the family which has meant stopping almost everything to pay my respects to Death and Time. I don't know how long they'll be right in the house like this. Maybe until the Peak Freans run out, or until some illuminating memory shakes out of the vault to make sense of the whole; a snow globe marked 'Souvenir of Life on Earth', the light hidden in those falling fake metallic flakes. I do know that whatever it is, Death and TIme will return to their place on the back burner to be taken for granted again like breath itself.
So what do you read when the geese are flying over, the leaves are turning, and Time is cleaning your mirrors? I happened to be reading 'the Norwegian book about the father and son'. And I couldn't have been reading a more perfect book for this time. Perhaps that's the recommendation right there; that this book could stand up to this time. It did not become too frivolous so that I had to set it aside, nor was it too complicated or difficult. It had no trickery and very little ego.
The truths in this book are stated as sparely and simply as one of Sibelius' piano works, each piece of time whole in itself and then set down in just the right spot until it makes sense to the adult son and the reader. What the son finds out is that there is more than one order for time. There is the order in which it was lived, the order it is remembered (which is often on shuffle), and the special order that is like a puzzle. Work it, and it gives you the big picture, or at least the forest for the trees. Like the characters, the woods have a strong, resinous presence in this book.

"...and the wet boggy moss and the sweet, sharp, all-pervading odour of something greater than ourselves and beyond our comprehension; of the forest, which just went on and on to the north and into Sweden and over to Finland and further on the whole way to Siberia, and you could get lost in this forest and a hundred people go searching for weeks without a chance of finding you, and why should that be so bad, I wondered, to get lost here? But I did not know then how serious that thought was."

I know those woods. They go to the tree-line and as spare as this book is, he leaves nothing out. There is some logging in this book, Stihl portraits that never get overwrought or silly. He really leaves nothing out.
My high opinion of this book may be due to the time I read it, but I don't think so.


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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Tony So what do you read when the geese are flying over, the leaves are turning, and Time is cleaning your mirrors?

So pleased you found the right book for that moment. This is a very special review.


Tony And it reminds me of this quote from Vollmann: “So he lent her books. After all, one of life's best pleasures is reading a book of perfect beauty; more pleasurable still is rereading that book; most pleasurable of all is lending it to the person one loves: Now she is reading or has just read the scene with the mirrors; she who is so lovely is drinking in that loveliness I've drunk.”


Donna Thank you,Tony. It was a silver lining that I was reading just the right book. I lend books to my eldest daughter, and she lends books to me...most pleasurable of all is lending it to the person one loves...
"Did you like the part about the ants?"
"Oh no.. I'm going to cry about the ants again."
"I'm tearing up about the ants again too."
"Don't mention the ants."
The book tie really deepens the blood tie.


message 4: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan spoiler alert!
my brother told me a story about a financial guy from norway who was in the underground during wwll. he said that no mattter what he did for excitement after that it paled beside his wartime adventure. he never recovered the thrill of skiing around in the snow wearing white camo with the nazis on his heels.


message 5: by Mieczyslaw (new)

Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk You could say that all the books we read are read at a special time - sometimes those times gell with the book - or something in the book works in harmony with how you are feeling. It always amazes me how unprepared we are for death and how something inside us dies... when my mother died I just couldn't listen to music for a long, long time (I still can't in the car). You are right - it was a silver lining.


message 6: by M. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M. Sarki A great, great review of a simply marvelous book! I could not agree more with your assessment, and the test you gave it is proof beyond a doubt how good the book is. Sorry for your loss.


Donna As I get older I'm finding out just what a good book can get me through. They really are miraculous little things. Thank you, M.


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