:::this is the way the world ends:::

Thanks to Graywolf

If you have not read Out Stealing Horses I strongly urge you to pick it up. You have already purchased it right?

I have always enjoyed Scandinavian literature. Many Scandinavian authors share a preoccupation with the formation of the self in the early years of life — a preoccupation we Hollow Men seem to share as well.

Wish I had more intelligent things to say right now but it’s just to late for that. Suffice to say, thank you Graywolf Press for publishing this fine translation and thank you to Shotts for being such insistent champion of it. Though it is too early to tell, I suspect Out Stealing Horses will have a strong presence in my literary consciousness for many years to come.


  1. Ned

    Good to know somebody has some time for good reading. Glad to hear you liked it. Interesting what you say about the formation of the self, especially for a dad… something that I have been all too conscious of lately.

  2. Ned

    To add to that, I realize that Eliot will begin kindergarten next year and the idea that my influence on him (better or worse) will be waning already and the tide of teachers’ and peers’ influence on him will be coming in, is somewhat of a reality check. I feel older this semester than I ever have. But that’s not a lament, just a realization of my own limits.

  3. Shotts

    J.E.–Thanks for this great post, and above all, for reading OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson. I’m really heartened, and not at all surprised, that you enjoyed it so much. Same goes for Ned. It is a novel very, very dear to me, and the fact that such a quiet, subtle, understated novel is a strong success in terms of critical attention, awards, and sales is really, for me, an outpouring of hope.

    I think it is a really fascinating book about being a son, becoming a father, and finding out how much we really do decide when it will hurt. I may have to reread the novel over the holidays: that seems like a good time to hunker down with it again. It’s such a book about silence.

    J.E.–i agree with your feelings about the Scandinavian sensibility. It’s very powerful to me. It runs through my veins. It’s a large part of Kansas and Minnesota history.

    Ned–That is amazing to think of Eliot going to Kindergarten soon. I don’t know that that means your influence on him will be waning, but your influence will be competing more strenuously with others, for sure. I suspect Eliot will only rise to the challenge, and will be ready for those other influences.

    Toby, Peters–I hope you’ll find a chance to read OUT STEALING HORSES.

  4. Ned

    I thought I’d throw this out there…
    I’m using poetry for a final assignment in my Freshman Color and Composition course. I’m selecting five to seven pieces from which the students must select one to respond to visually through a series of images. I am using a Heaney piece, a Szymborska piece, and a McNeice piece so far; I also have a possible Kenyon piece.

    Can you reccomend any poems that are relatively short and more or less accessible to the average freshman that would also give them pause about something? I could especially use women poets, as the class is about seventy percent girls. This probably should have gone under a different post, sorry. But now it’s typed.

  5. Shotts



    Sounds like a great assignment. Immediate thoughts for good and visual poems by women poets: “Star” by Rita Dove (I believe that’s the title, from her Pulitzer book Thomas and Beulah); “Mock Orange” by Louise Gluck (very well-known poem); anything by Anne Carson; anything by the quirky Matthea Harvey; “Little Furnace” by Brenda Hillman (in her book Bright Existence); anything from Katie Ford’s book Deposition; I would say Jorie Graham, but her poems are generally long.

    I hope that helps.

  6. Ned

    Many thanks for these poems. I’m going to use poems by Hillman and Ford. Glad to read them too, as I was unfamiliar with both. It’s funny, but I had chosen The Forge by Heaney so coupled with the Little Furnance it’s a bit odd. I’ve switched the Heaney poem to one from Squarings.

  7. Shotts

    Glad you’ve got what you need. I hope the students respond to the poems…

  8. Ned

    I just noticed that the NY Times listed Out Stealing Horses as one of the ten best books of the year.

  9. Shotts

    Yes, Graywolf and OUT STEALING HORSES had a big day yesterday and for this holiday season:


    We’re scrambling now to make sure we have enough books in print to fill demand as one of the New York Times Book Reviews Best 10 Books of the Year. This usually means an additional 10,000-20,000 in sales, which is phenomenal for a book like this, on top of the 27,000 we’ve already sold.

    If you’re looking for a good book to give at the holidays, this is it. Thanks to all of you who have read it already and passed on the good words! I may have to reread it, since it’s been a year and a half ago that I actually read the book…

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