Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I always pay close attention to the New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of the Year. Not every book on the last will appeal to me, but the description of Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses, and the heaps of praise it received, put it on my list immediately.

The book is not about horses; don't be misled. It is about attempting to escape the past and how it will catch up with you. A theme I enjoy. Despite the narrator's relocation to remote northern Norway, with his dog and his out of place Nissan station wagon, circumstances and coincidence lead him to relive events in his past.

I appreciated this book for many reasons. Thematically, it is something I can appreciate. I love the romantic notion of packing up your essentials and moving far away to a one room cabin and wilderness outside the window. And there is enough violence and tragedy here to please me.

It wasn't until Hamsun's name appeared in the text that I realized that I'd read another Norwegian novel just a couple of books back. Though Hunger is a classic of sorts, this book fulfills in ways that it did not. The characters are rich and shaken. And there's plenty of story here to keep you reading.

I would certainly highly recommend this book. I would put this book on a shelf with others I was proud to have read.