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Out Stealing Horses

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  28,392 ratings  ·  4,213 reviews
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 one of 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 would turn out to be different. What began as a joy ride on
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Graywolf Press (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I have a feeling this book may take root and blossom further within me over time, but for now, I must stop one star short of my top rating.

"Out Stealing Horses" won the world's richest literary prize (The Impac, out of Dublin) last year, and it has had enough buzz that I had to wait weeks for it to come off the reserve list at our local library.

It is the tale of a 67-year-old Norwegian man who retreats to the north woods to review his life, and particularly, a fateful summer in 1948 when he was
"I believe we shape our lives ourselves, at any rate I have shaped mine, for what it’s worth, and I take complete responsibility. But of all the places I might have moved to, I had to land up precisely here."

I’m a sucker for these self-reflective sort of novels where the narrator looks back on his or her life and we as readers have the opportunity to make that journey as well. I’m also crazy about subtle language that in its simplicity still manages to deliver a powerful punch to the reader’s gu
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Listen to the soundless words
Recommended to Dolors by: Ilse
This is a story of growth, of a boy who becomes an adult in an isolated rural region of Norway, close to the Swedish border, in the course of one summer.
But this is also a story of decline, of an old man who revisits the countryside where he last saw his father in 1948, expecting to capture the blinding light of indifferent nature, the flashing clarity of unhurried memories, the physical vigor that pumped up his young body more than sixty years ago before the clock of his worn-out life ticks out
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What in the hell just happened here? What in the hell?

I am completely flummoxed by my own reaction to this book.

So, quick back story on this. . . About 3 years ago, I was hiding out in the kitchen at a neighbor's New Year's Eve party. My husband had become trapped against the wall in the den, stuck in a conversation with several other men, forced to listen to a man give the play-by-play on how he had just tiled his floors. I saw that I couldn't save my spouse, so I had slipped into the kitchen u
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
The book that began with an ending, ended up winning me over. If you look back on your life what will you see? Will you be happy with your relationships? Will you be proud of your actions? Will you be haunted by past events that forever changed your life. Actions have consequences. How do consequences affect a person for life?

I read this book when it first came out with my book club and it blew me away in a very quiet subtle way. Par Peterson is an award winning Norwegian writer who introduces u
Will Byrnes
Nov 13, 2008 rated it liked it
What do we see when we look back over our lives. Are we the hero of our own story? Looking into that mirror, can we really see ourselves, or is our view doomed to be perpetually blocked, offering maybe a Maigret image of only the backs of our heads?

A man, 67, Trond, lives alone in a small house by a lake in east Norway and contemplates his past. We travel back and forth between the present, 1999, and 1948 when he was a fifteen-year-old, living with his father in a summer place. The events of th
My copy of Ut og stjæler hester has a little tear in the dust-jacket, and when my girlfriend sees it she looks at me reproachfully, she respects books in a way I cannot, as physical objects, and she had bought me this elegant first edition as a present, but now I had carelessly used the dust-jacket to mark my page and put too much strain on the paper, it had not been important to me, for I respect books in my own way and was lost in the author's words, in his unique way of using the Norwegian la ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The only negative thing I can say – or, more accurately, am willing to say – about this novel is that it begs to be read by the fireplace, and not everybody has a fireplace. I don't have a fireplace.
Steven Godin
“That part of my life when I could turn the dreams to some use is behind me now. I am not going to change anything anymore.”

Out Stealing Horses is a pure, poignant and luminous story that feels out of place in this modern and cluttered world. It's a simple tale that doesn't do anything fancy, and had the feel of both being radiant like the sun high up in the sky and the echoing sadness of a dry riverbed. Petterson effectively catches hold and haunts with the one thing we all ponder on from time
”Early November. It’s nine o’clock. The titmice are banging against the window. Sometimes they fly dizzily off after the impact, other times they fall and lie struggling in the new snow until they can take off again.”

”I live here now, in a small house in the far east of Norway. A river flows into the lake. It is not much of a river, and it gets shallow in the summer, but in the spring and autumn it runs briskly, and there are trout in it…I can just see it from my window once the birch leaves ha
The evocative title lured me into buying this book. It starts out as your typical autumn recalls the beginning of Summer type story as an older man, settling into a basic cottage by a lake in search of solitude (plainly a hard task, but someone has to do it) in southern Norway, hard by the border with Sweden, recalls his youth in the same area. Some sexual tension as he recalls watching the deft fingered milkmaid at her work and the faded cotton dress clinging to the woman sweating as she is out ...more
With the use of stark, simple language, Norwegian author Per Petterson tells the complex story of a summer that brings about a coming of age for 15 year old Trond, seen through his 67 year old eyes. This language suits the setting perfectly - aging Trond has retreated to a cabin in remote wilderness, to a very simple life (he doesn't own a phone and not even his children know where he is). But, while he may have simplified his landscape, all the messiness of his interior life comes with him, esp ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
I was sorry when I turned to the last page. And surprised--my right hand still held several pages of the book, and I hadn't realized they were the blank ones that often come at the end.

I was sorry, because I wanted to spend more time in this space--rural Norway, mostly, with ventures into Oslo and Sweden. I wanted to spend more time with the narrator, Trond, whose name rarely emerges in the text and who we follow when he is fifteen and when he is sixty-seven, with ventures elsewhere in his life.
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Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is lovely. Very compressed language. Funny how that comes through even in translation (from the Norwegian). At certain points the novel suggests all that is good about Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River," which is not to say it's derivative, not at all; just that Petterson knows his Ernest Hemingway. The narrative flashes between past and present. A 67 year old man has moved to rural Norway, away from Oslo after the death of his second wife, and settled in a lakeside village. His children, ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-german
Actual rating: 3.5 🌟's

It's hard for me to write an actual review for this book. My reading experience was great, I had a good time and the writing style was just divine. However, somehow something was just missing...There were some super interesting things happening in the beginning, but unfortunately, these situations weren't explored further, even though they made a huge impact on all the characters. The topics that were then deeper delved into were...well, interesting as well, I guess, but I
Out Stealing Horses doesn't have much of a plot, but I didn't mind it in the least.
It's a very atmospheric novel. Petterson's writing, while relatively unadorned, managed to conjure vivid images of the landscape, the seasons, the rural and the city environments.
Certain events affect and shape us, and, possibly, alter our life's trajectory.
Sixty-seven-year-old Trond Sander, the narrator of this novel, reminisces about the summer of 1948, when his father disappeared from his life. The puzzle of t
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressive novel about the fragility of memories and the aching feeling of loss which can haunt us throughout our lives. The novel is written in steadily clipped sentences full of poetical images, melancholy and wonderful descriptions of natural beauty. I simply loved it. A novel which cannot be praised enough!
Cathrine ☯️
3.5 🐎 🐎 🐎
This is one I want to use the two level scoring method for. There's the writing and then the story. The first gets a 5 and the latter a 3. It's less is more storytelling that you must pay attention to because blink and you've missed it.
Trond a 67 year old man has made the decision to live a minimalist lifestyle in isolation in rural Norway. He's not told anyone where he is and has no phone. Back from a walk he is surprised to see his daughter has tracked him down and come to visit. A w
Joy D
In 1999, sixty-seven-year-old protagonist Trond lives with his dog in a small house near a river in rural eastern Norway. He is still grieving the loss of his wife, has retired from his business in Oslo, and desires to lead a solitary life. The present story alternates with recollections of 1948, when he and his father spent the summer at a cabin near the border of Norway and Sweden. Parts of the story refer to his father’s involvement in the Norwegian resistance in WWII.

This is a contemplative
As I said in an update, this book has some of the most effortless to read prose I've ever encountered, but also seems very worth re-reading.

This story of a father and son's relationship, linked by mentions of the titular phrase, holds so much emotion: love, loss, pain, regret, hope and hopelessness, moments of overwhelming joy followed by inevitable sadness. I found the earlier part of the book absolutely poetic, the latter less so....but I'm unsure if that was the book (the story) or me and my
Lars Guthrie
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As chilly as its Norwegian setting, Petterson's novel continues to haunt my thoughts weeks after reading it. Its very title and the many allusions to cowboy culture made me think about what frontier and re-invention means if the edge of the world is vast and dramatically sculpted desert that only ends with limitless ocean, or claustrophobic forest that transitions into Arctic ice. But mostly it made me think about no matter how much we think we know about others and ourselves, it's never complet ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more

OK, I know Asgeir is from Iceland, and not Norway, but that’s the song that I kept going back to while reading this book: it captures the atmosphere of Trond’s story perfectly.

“Out Stealing Horses” is one of those quiet, introspective books that sits there quietly on the shelf, between novels containing much more bombastic stories. But it doesn’t feel intimidated by them: it knows that the story within its pages is subtler, more complex and more haunting t
Rebecca McNutt
Set in the 1940's, Out Stealing Horses is not only a beautiful work of Scandinavian historical literature, but it's also a very nostalgic and brilliant boyhood coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stand By Me. Trond, an elderly gentleman who's still reeling over the loss of his wife in a car accident, finds that his new neighbour is a man he once knew as a young teenager, causing him to reflect back on a strange and cathartic summer where grief and loss are poignantly explored alongside their endea ...more
joyce g
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and unexpected. Don't you love when a book finds its way to you?
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Deea by: Dolors
Shelves: favorites, best-2017
"You decide for yourself when it will hurt."
The image of an egg falling from the top of a tree and then of a nest destroyed in some seconds. The image of life being shattered in the space of some seconds. These two images got imprinted on my retina while reading this book. They haunted me and they still haunt me even now after having finished the book. I don’t know if it’s Petterson’s unique style of writing that gives these images such strength or putting them in the context that he did. O
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only are Petterson’ words gracefully spun -- and a translation from Norwegian to English at that -- but the story is told brilliantly. In fact it’s not so much told as it is revealed, in a series of elegantly executed flashbacks. When I was done, several things struck me, fell into place if you will, and I went back to reread earlier parts and confirmed that yes, Petterson did articulate this story as perfectly as I’d first thought.

Trond is a complex character and a man of few words. He is
May 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
a third of the way through and i was certain i'd give this book four or five stars... spare, strong sentences, a jumping chronology, meandering, mysterious... i loved it. and had it remained how it had started -- that is, a book of sketches strung together by a common element -- i would have loved it... but it doesn't. in a way, i think, petterson lacks confidence in his own abilities: he introduces certain plot elements i found wholly unnecessary (not to mention an incredibly anti-climactic res ...more
Gregory Baird
Sumptuous Prose, but Largely Redundant

Picking up this novel (translated from its original Norwegian), it is easy to understand why “Out Stealing Horses” has earned such high praise from critics; its author, Per Petterson, is a writer of astonishing talent. There are moments where his astute observations and beautiful descriptions sent chills down my spine. Petterson’s depth of understanding for his main character, Trond, is palpable, and he is carefully rendered in an achingly believable portr
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Petterson knew from the age of 18 that he wanted to be a writer, but didn't embark on this career for many years - his debut book, the short story collection Aske i munnen, sand i skoa, (Ashes in the Mouth, Sand in the Shoes) was published 17 years later, when Petterson was 35. Previously he had worked for years in a factory as an unskilled labourer, as his parents had done before him, and had als ...more

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“You decide for yourself when it will hurt.” 113 likes
“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. No-one can touch you unless you yourself want them to.” 107 likes
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