Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

No doubt Out Stealing Horses has been reviewed thus:

Too many long sentences.

Or, to put it another way,

Who does he think he is, anyway, this Per Petterson, with his immodestly large sentences that have no inkling when to end, no brakes, no sensitivity to the situation of the poor reader who has drawn the most enormous amount of oxygen into their lungs, sucking it in until fit to burst, face red and bulging, in order to start at the beginning and be able to go through right to the end of just one of these sentences which one could call indecently long in their unconcern for the reader, gasping for air again when the end of one of these sentences is finally reached, because after all Petterson is no Shakespeare, and certainly no JK Rowling, who might have the right to inflict such sentences upon their readers.

Who does he think he is?

But for me it is like this:

Sometimes people tell me I should write and I say but I do write, to which they reply, no, a novel, I mean.

(Like other writing doesn’t really count.)

And every now and then something I read reminds me, in case for a moment I had been taken in by the notion that I should write, that I can’t hold a candle to, or let’s say, a lit match even, to a real writer, the proper-like writer my friends intimate that I too could be, if only I would just set myself to it, instead of writing these trivial bits and pieces that require not much more dedication or concentration than a facebook OMG.

If I were a real writer, the kind of writer my friends think I should be, I would keep the suspense at this point, but I’m not and in any case, is there any suspense in a piece like this, obviously, after all, I’m going to say that Per Petterson is such a writer, the one who reminds me that I, like an infinite number of slightly talented writers in the world is nothing, not worthy of the name, which indeed, though my friends insist upon my using, I have never used myself.

It doesn’t matter whether Petterson is giving insights into the soul, describing the snow and the forest, the light and the water and the mountains, trying to find the past in the present, or perhaps what he is now in what has gone, showing us the shelves of his memory and how he slips into that same piece of the past over and over again or, not so much that his first marriage ended because his wife knitted, but because her knitting made the wrong sound and the wrong sound itself was an echo of what was unsustainable, it doesn’t matter what he is talking about, there is not a word, a nuance, a thought that is out of place.

His haunting long sentences.
His lilting poetry.
Its cadence and rhythm.
The guarded emotion.
The puzzle.

He grips something inside you and never lets go.

Wonderful. Five stars.

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5 thoughts on “Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

  1. Well, I’ve been exclaiming all week about how good the German translation of Karlsson is. But it’s still not as good as the original.

  2. I would have been able to say more about this, but I was stopped from buying a copy of the Norwegian edition by someone who said they could get me a better one cheaper. I hope they were right…

  3. Having discovered your blog yesterday, I`m also having a jolly good time reading some of your reviews. There’s so much crap in the blogosphere. We must treasure the good stuff.

    And then I found this review. What can I say? I also read and reviewed it last year and I still have trouble writing about it. The only word that comes to mind when I think about it is the word “silence”. Go figure…

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