Monday, November 16, 2009

Petterson, Per (Out Stealing Horses)

I love any novel set in Scandinavia. It's not the fact that it makes me feel cold to read it (as a friend recently put it), but that the language is always spare and to the point. I honestly don't think there's a Norwegian Hemingway-- I think all Norwegian writers channel him.

While I appreciated the style of the writing, it was ultimately confusing in places. There are two to three different timelines, depending on how you look at it, and Petterson does weave them together adroitly for the most part, but at times you are not quite sure if the current character is the boy or the man. This could very well be one of Petterson's points, but it makes it a little difficult to follow.

There's a lot going on here-- the mystery of one's own father, the danger of war, planned and unplanned isolation from a community. I can't easily reconcile the early interactions between the boy and his friend Jon with the later interactions of the man and Jon's brother, Lars. Is this meant to describe the reticence of Norwegian culture? Because there's not much going on on the surface, and it's a mystery to some degree what is happening in these people's brains.

In the long run, I like these kinds of novels for the sense of peace that they give me, even while they're sotto voce discussing things best left unearthed.

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