Friday, August 28, 2009

Modern inconveniences

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born.

This week I'd like to recommend a novel that my friend and novelist Jennifer Jefferson recommended after reading my post about the stone house without electricity. I haven't read this book but I'm intrigued. Here's what Jennifer said about Out Stealing Horses: "A 67-year old Norwegian man moves to a cabin with no modern conveniences. It's an amazing book about home and family."

The novel was a top ten pick of the year by The New York Times Book Review.

I'm going to give it a whirl and hope you will, too. Let me know what you think. Even if you read it months from now, come back and leave a comment here. My email alerts me to your responses.


  1. Wendy didn't care for it, so I gave it a skip...

  2. I loved this book and didn't want it to end. Spare, subtle, precise, heartbreaking. The narrator moves to an isolated cabin in Norway and relives the summer he was 15, during World War II when he lived in a similar cabin with his father. It is an extraordinary depiction of adolescence with a powerful sense of place and the kind of melancholy beauty that I love.

    Jon, I can understand how some people wouldn't like it. I can hear someone saying "nothing happens". But I experienced the opposite of that sentiment.

  3. Jon --Funny how we're both talking about a book we haven't yet read and are relying on recommendations by readers we trust. I'd like to hear why Wendy didn't take to it.

    I'll report back once I've read it myself!

  4. Jennifer-glad to hear more about why you loved it. Thanks. I mentioned the novel to another friend yesterday and he, too, loved it.

  5. It's been on my list for awhile - this prompts me to put it up high.

  6. Let me know when you read it, Billie.

  7. I'll add it to my official post-it list of possibilities. I'm a bit behind on books. I'd promised myself I'd read what was on the shelves and unread before buying more books. I'm sure you know how that goes.

  8. Krebiz - The advantage of a house without electricity is the reading that would get done.

    I make promises about reading certain books, until I pick one up that surprises me or comes to me when I need it most. When that happens, all lists and promises get rearranged.

  9. Yes, I would get tons of reading done, provided I had an endless supply of candles or fuel for the gas lamp! As it is, I don't have television, so reading does get done...I just feel I should tackle the lonely Cervantes on the shelf before I go shopping.

    I just came from your website, where I read "Solo" and enjoyed it very much! I'll probably be exploring the other things you have available through your site.

    One day, I should really change my google id from "krebiz" lol, a very old handle from BBS days, the salad days of the web. you can find me here:

  10. Jenna (krebiz)--glad to have your first name! Thanks for reading "Solo"--really makes my day.

    Meanwhile, I like that you've chosen not to have TV. Was it distracting you? What led you to get rid of it?

    Actually, I'm not here to bash TV. I watch plenty of internet.

  11. When my husband and I moved to our current place, our reception for the TV was good enough to get us one channel...sort of. It was snowy, and poor picture quality, even with rabbit ears. In a big city, you generally need cable.

    I refused the cable - I didn't want to pay upwards of $100/month for something that would consume my life (b/c when I accidentally had free cable for 6 months it did just that, consumed my life). So I watched maybe 2 hours, very occasionally 3 hours of TV per week. The DTV thing happened, and we lost all reception, and I never got the converter box or did anything about it.

    I have a large, silver object in my living room that I call The Rented Video Playing machine. I do watch a lot of independent, obscure and old DVD's, so the tv is good for that. I haven't seen a sitcom or televised news for months and months and months.

    The only things I miss are Hardball with Chris Matthews, and sports. But I discovered really cheap bars with large screen TV's so I get all the baseball and football and occasional basketball I need :)

    My stress level has gone down appreciably now that I don't randomly hear of murders and every other very pleasant thing the news focuses, but about which I can generally do nothing.

  12. Jenna-I wish I could say my stress has gone down by not watching TV, but it hasn't. The internet announces weird and awful news all the time.

    What I've learned, regardless, is that news is usually all about distortion.

    Getting back to the idea of home, however, is the idea that our home has the potential to protect us from worldly bombardment if we let it. Nothing's foolproof but it's worth a try.

  13. I think that pretty much defines what "home" is really - it's not so much something that's tangible as the idea that when there, there is protection from the world.

  14. Krebiz (Jenna)--yeh, protection helps.