Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sharing Moments from a Life

Sharing Moments from a Life

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.
- Out Stealing Horses, p. 17

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
- David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson is a novel as book of memories. It is the story of a life pieced together from moments of action and surprise, meditation and love and one of tragedy. Per Petterson's simple and often poetic prose makes the quotidian events of a life lived in rural Norway as interesting as the most extreme moments of an adventure novel. The adventure here is on a small scale with the outside world intervening at moments, but mostly with a focus on the solitary. Trond, who tells us his story says,

To me it is better to stand alone, but for the moment the blue world gives a consolation I am not sure I want, and do not need, and still I take it. (p. 99)

We meet his family and friends and father and slowly share in the secrets of his life. Told from the perspective of a sixty-seven year old man at the end of the century, the narrative takes in moments from a life that has accumulated meaning and purpose from those very moments. This is a serious and thoughtful story. It is a book that stays with you long after you put it down not in little part due to its resonance with the moments in your own life.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, MN. 2007.

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