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Starred Review. Begun in 1981, this slender, unpretentious, lyrical and deeply moving novel by the president emeritus of Amherst College was more than two decades in the making. The year is 1987, and octogenarian Robert MacIver is alone, in failing health and debilitated with grief over his wife's recent death, hiding out in the dead of winter in a remote, unheated Cape Cod house "older than the Republic." Shocked into confronting the seriousness of his plight when the timbers of the front porch collapse under his weight, he retreats back inside the house and realizes that he wants to live out his remaining days—however few in number—with dignity. Thus resolved, he formulates his Ten Commandments for Old Men Waiting, the seventh of which is "Work every morning." And so he decides to write a short story about an infantry company in "No Man's Land" in WWI, which will draw on the interviews he conducted with victims of poison gas that he used for his first book, the well-received oral history Voices Through the Smoke. Pouncey's novel thus becomes a story within a novel; and MacIver's story is elegantly juxtaposed with his memories from his own long life. Pouncey's first book is proof that sometimes greatness comes slowly and in small packages. Agent, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Apr.)
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Wed like to think a better-late-than-never literary debut hasnt garnered this much attention since Ants on the Melon, Virginia Hamilton Adairs first collection of poetry published at age 87. Pouncey, a classics professor at Columbia University and the retired President of Amherst College, began work on Rules in 1981; at a slim 210 pages, its obvious he chose his words carefully. Reviewers generously praise Pounceys controlled prose and ripened wisdom. Those who enjoy the book embrace it as a serious-minded antidote to the treacly works of Mitch Albom. The few detractors note that Pouncey falls into traps of many first time novelists: no matter how well its written, its still a story about a man wandering around an empty house with only memories to incite any drama.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
Meaningful and wonderful insight. Definite worth readingPublished 5 months ago by Charles F. Turner
I read through this in one sitting. Good tension throughout. This novel doesn't lose momentum at any point. Quality writing. No wasted words but all is well-developed. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Gary Sedlacek
This book had a pretty slow start but the more I read the more intrigued I was. A lot of stories in one big story embracing love life war and death. A good readPublished 13 months ago by Tessa
The book started out slow and was unable to follow at first. Put the book down for a couple months and came back to it. Read morePublished 17 months ago by John Peyton
I was give the book as a holiday gift from my wife. Our physician recommended it to her.
Of course, I was concerned that our family doctor recommended a book with a... Read more
I have read much in my lifetime. So I can state without equivocation, it is worth it to read this novel for the language alone. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Neotherm
The story starts fairly slowly but if you stick in there you will find that you really enjoyed the story.Published 23 months ago by J. Morton