by Peter Pouncey
In a little old summer cottage near a pond, an elderly man lives out his final days. Even though winter is approaching and the cabin falling into disrepair, he is unable to find any motivation to leave or fix things up, hampered by his own progressing illness and weakness, and grief at loosing his wife. Originally he moved into the cabin to give his wife some peace in her final days, but now that she's gone he can't seem to do anything. Until one day he makes a list of rules to keep himself going, and starts to write a fictional story about a group of men in WWI. Rules for Old Men Waiting is woven of the daily struggles he faces with old age and sorrow, his construction of a narrative, and his actual memories of the war the writings are based on. I thought it had good promise, but a third of the way through found myself unable to continue.
I've never really been fond of war stories; for some reason fighting scenes actually bore me (this happens when I'm watching films too. Action movies put me to sleep, oddly enough!) None of the characters felt very real to me, neither the old man himself, the characters he created on paper, or the people who inhabited his memories. And so eventually I just didn't care. There was also the issue of format. The only copy my public library has of this book was in large print. Which didn't bother me so much, I soon got used to the oversize font, but every time I encountered a word that normally would be in italics, like the title of a book, a piece of music, or a foreign word, instead it was in bold. (And when a bold word is also in large print, it really jumps out at you!) This unsettled me for some reason. I don't know if it's part of how this book was originally printed, or has something to do with the large-print format? But it distracted my attention every time.
This is another of those cases where I feel slightly guilty for not liking a book, as if I'm really missing something. All the other reviews I could find online praised this one, and it's received several awards. But it just didn't work for me.
Abandoned ........ 401 pages, 2005
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