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Rules For Old Men Waiting

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224 pages


Old man MacIver, military historian and one-time centre for Scotland's rugby team ('quite quick in his day'), recently widowed, has holed up in his holiday home. He makes rules to 'stop the rot', as he and his house crumble away - what he must burn, when he should eat, how to write something everyday- Gradually a strange and gripping parallel tale is born, of men in the trenches of the Great War (Sergeant Braddis, king of No-Man's-Land, with his pincer-like nails; Private Callum, the quietly subversive artist; Lieutenant Simon Dodds, decent and unremarkable; and salt-of-the-earth Private Charlie Alston, caught up in a story of inhumanity and betrayal); while MacIver recalls, too, his own experiences in WWII, and tries not to think about the later war which took his son away. He tries to make sense of his marriage, his own anger and innate violence, matching these against the turbulent century through which he has lived. It's winter and he is dying; but his memories, tender, sardonic, even hopeful, glint as brightly as a gold watch in the Flanders mud.--Masterly in its evocation of different times and wars, miraculous in its restraint, Rules for Old Men Waiting is an unsettling reflection of the classical unities, and a distillation of a lifetime's wisdom in an outstanding first novel.




"* 'A lean, quietly elegiac postscript to the protaganist's existence... told in simple, restrained prose, this is a novel brimming with humanity - one to savour' Hephzibah Anderson - Observer * 'A deeply sensual, moving, thrilling novel...calls for a second and third reading - it is that rich' Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes 'Written with admirable restraint and composed with sturdy, elegant prose, it's an object lesson in the fact that, sometimes, less can be more. Human and moving' Daily Mail 'A quarter of a century in the making, Peter Pouncey's first novel is laden with the fruits of a lifetime's reflection... The detail reveals Pouncey as a brilliant miniaturist' Guardian 'An intense, memorable little book' Saturday Times 'A lean, quietly elegiac postscript to the protaganist's existence... told in simple, restrained prose, this is a novel brimming with humanity - one to savour' Observer 'Poignant...profound and moving. The work of a superior intelligence' Irish Independent 'Uplifting yet unbearably sad' Literary Review 'Pouncey has a real gift for telling war stories...a meditation on nature and old age' Daily Express 'Mr Pouncey writes with enough style and elegance to bring envy into the heart of many a good novelist' Norman Mailer 'Spare and elegant prose' Sunday Times"



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Rules For Old Men Waiting