“You decide for yourself when it will hurt.” — Per Petterson (Out Stealing Horses)

Hey, join us for the BrownBagger book discussions every month, 3rd Thursday.  Call the Central Reference Department for more information: 434 979 7151 Extension 4 – You are missing the fun and cookies!!

Per Petterson’s “Out Stealing Horses,” not surprisingly, generated some good discussion among the BrownBaggers today.  As the opening title for JMRL’s Adult Summer Reading program themed “Novel Destinations,” it certainly started us off looking at another culture and place, those of Norway, the author’s home.  It was universally liked by the group who found the gentle, methodical style enticing; not “slow, boring, incoherent, melancholy, and tedious” as one Amazon reader blogged.

The writer fairly successfully weaves 2 stories at once, one of the adolescent narrator and then of this narrator in his later life – both eras find him in Norway’s isolating forest living like a woodsman and near the Swedish border; both of which play into the books plotline.  Following the narrator’s life right after World War II until 2000, we see a quiet story unfold with sudden and startling events interspersed that define the narrator and the other characters.

In a succinct statement on the author’s writing, John Baker on his blog of the same name says: “Per Petterson is concerned with suffering and death and with the way that seemingly innocuous events in a young life become magnified and iconic in the adult. In a languorous and yet understated prose he examines the minutia of everyday events …”

We also discussed briefly the translator’s role in understanding the writer’s intent and writing style.  This discussion will surely play in when we discuss next month’s selection, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”  Something is surely lost in any translation so how does the writer or publisher minimize the loss.  What are your thoughts here?

The book’s end brought about the most discussion, but of course, we don’t want to ruin the read for future readers by revealing the discussion points.  You will have to read this rich, lovely book to discover what lies between its covers.

Other books by Per Petterson:

I Curse the River of Time

In the Wake

To Siberia

~ The Reluctant Blogger


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