A few weeks ago I bought some books with my friend F's gift coupon. One was In the Wake. Really I wanted Out Stealing Horses but didn't swing for the hardback. Especially as I wasn't familiar with the author. Per Petterson is from Norway, and has published six books there, but recently came to wider attention with the publication of Out Stealing Horses which was an Impac Dublin Literary Award nominee.
The beginning was rough and disorienting. The narrator is drunk and wandering around in a way that makes you feel there is nothing solid under your feet. But then, with chapter two, the narrator and thus the reader settles down. Plot is not at the foremost in the narration but rather the interior musings and processes of the narrator.
Petterson's prose, and this is a translation which I often think probably loses something, is lovely, rhythmical and lyrical. He moves into flashback with such ease! You barely feel the transition yet you are not confused. Although I admit I had to go back and reread a few sections, I consider this my own mind's distraction rather than an effect of his prose.
It is the story of a man in mourning for the death of his parents, and his marriage. He is a writer who has published novels in years past, but is unable to write much now. And the story of his brother too, who is also separating from his wife and in bad sorts.
I know it sounds depressing, but it isn't.
At the back of the book were a few pages from Out Stealing Horses. The following quote comes from that section.
"What he had taught me was to be reckless, taught me that if I let myself go, did not slow myself down by thinking so much beforehand I could achieve many things I would never have dreamt possible."
I have order OSH and highly recommend both the above books.