Cody's Reviews > Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
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's review
Dec 07, 2009

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Read in December, 2009

This book is a delightful airplane read, but outside of a confined space where all you can do is read the one book you have in front of you, it's a pretty boring book. It begins interestingly enough, with a slow building mystery amongst two time line, one on the eve of the millenium, the other 50 years in the past. Both portions hurl towards the climax which, upon reaching, you realize that there's 50 pages left... of the same things you've read about for two hundred pages.

The meat of the novel takes place in the woods of Norway. In the past: Trond age 15 is living with his father in a cabin in the woods and helping him cut timber. In the future: Trond age 65, living by himself in the woods. The red line that links these two stories is the character Lars, age 10 in the past, and age 60 in the future.

The overall feel I get from the novel is something like OLD MAN AND THE SEA, man versus nature and man versus self. The characters are interesting enough to keep turning the page, but there are only so many descriptions of a forest I can handle, and only so many descriptions of cutting down trees I could handle.

In the end, this could have been a five-star novel (and indeed, it is as the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2006), Norwegian Booksellers Prize, and Critics' Award for best novel) it's just too long for the story its telling.
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