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02 November 2007

What I've been reading...

I didn't have the time to finish reading the book selection for my discussion group this month, but with writing like this, how can I not finish reading this?

...What had happened was that the twins had been playing in the basement the whole morning with cast-off clothes and worn-out shoes. Then they came running upstairs laughing, and stumbling into the corridor through the basement door, and there they saw the hares hanging on the peg and the gun leaning against the wall. It was Jon's gun, that they knew, and their big brother Jon was their hero, and if they had the same role models as I did at that age, he was their Davy Crockett and Hartsfoot and Huckleberry Finn in one person. Everything Jon did could be mimicked and turned into a game.

Lars got there first, he grabbed the gun and swung it around and shouted:

"Look at me now!" And then he pulled the trigger. The report and the shock from the butt sent him to the floor with a shriek, and he did not aim at anything, he just wanted to hold the wonderful gun and be Jon, and he might have hit the woodbox, or the small window over the steps, or the photograph of grandfather with his long beard that hung just above the peg in a frame painted the colour of gold, or the light bulb that hung there without a shade and was never switched off so that anyone out in the dark would see its light in the window and never get lost. But he did not hit any of those things, he hit Odd straight in the heart at close range. And if this had been something that happened in a Western, those porous pages would claim that the very name of Odd had been written on that cartridge, or it was written in the stars or on one of the pages in the fat book of Destiny. That nothing anyone could have done or said would have made the lines that met in that burning moment point any other way. That powers other than those controlled by man had made the mouth of that gun point in precisely that direction. But that was not how it was, and Jon knew it where he lay huddled up on the grass of the meadow and saw his father come out of the house with his brother in his arms, and the only book where the name of Odd was written and could not be crossed out was the church registry book.

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

This is a book that has captured my attention in the first few pages. Doesn't this passage tell you so much about this family, in addition to the tragedy described?

3 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

I almost checked this out of the library recently -- perhaps I should have!

danielle said...

I also recently read this and thought it was excellent, too! I'd like to read some of his other work as well.

Becky said...

This is on my list to read, so I'm pleased to hear more good things about it.