Book Review: Out Stealing Horses — by Per Petterson

(Graywolf Press)

Rereading is its own simple pleasure, and discovering a book that you want to reread is a treasure. I first read “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson, when published in the U.S. in 2007 and since then, it is often the book I name when asked: “What’s your favorite read?”

We first meet Trond, the story’s narrator, in 1999; his two children are grown and he lives pointedly alone, “in a small house in the far east of Norway.” He is set on fixing up the property, living out his days there, much in the manner of his father before him. In 1948, Trond spent a formative summer with his father, just three years after the Germans left Norway, and it is those experiences — beset with hidden duplicity and tragedy — recalled with stunning clarity, which form the heart of the story. It was the last summer the boy, then 15, would spend with his father. The evocative language and the immediacy of the retelling gives this book its singular beauty. Petterson brings you back to the days and nights of that summer; you can feel the pine pitch, see the sunlight coming through the trees, feel the warm breath of the horses, the cold clarity of the river. Well worth the reread.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.



Beloved, by Toni Morrison

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

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