Rules for Old Men Waiting

Pouncey, Peter

  11 Reviews

The eighty-year-old Scotsman, Robert MacIver, a retired historian and recent widower, is holed up in his ramshackle house on Cape Cod, awaiting the end of his life. While he waits, he devises a set of rules to impose order on his last days. The most important rule is to "tell a story to the end". Woven into his memories of love, loss, and rugby, is a wartime tale of MacIver's invention that helps him work through his rage, regret, and grief.

Comments from Groups

Two interesting stories in one small volume. Some enjoyed the old man's story, others enjoyed the finely drawn characters of WW1. Very good characterisation. A lot of story for a small book. The classical allusions were over the top for most of us, but the Classics teacher in our group thoroughly enjoyed them. Dannevirke 001

Most people thought it was beautifully written even though a bit grim. Christchurch 145

Everyone enjoyed the book for different reasons - some liked the parts about his war memories, and others preferred the part about his marriage and how he coped living alone. Auckland 071

There were very mixed reviews for this one. Most found it a struggle at the beginning, but enjoyed parts of it after that. All found parts of the book unconvincing, but we had a very interesting discussion about grief. Morrinsville 001

We liked the writing, descriptive yet warm; the characterisation of the old man, and the stories within the stories. It is a book of stories! Unlike the notewriter, we had no objection to the structure, nor to the note of didacticism. Owaka 001

A book that all our readers really enjoyed, written with humour and compassion. The interweaving of the different stories made it so interesting. We thought the ending most appropriate and entirely feasible. Gisborne 002



WELL 012
All enjoyed it, apart from the references to Greek mythology.
CHCH 224
Generally liked, but not raved over except by two blokes.
We all loved the book. Beautifully written.
CHCH 099
Beautiful language. A thoughtful and compassionate look at how older people on their own manage, and reflect on their memories.
The two stories were different and flowed at their own pace. We had great discussion about "writing rules" to live by, and grief to be dealt with. A number in the group found this a depressing book, others felt it was realistic dealing with life and the death of loved ones, especially the young men. The process of writing and choosing the kind of characters to develop the story was compelling. Superb language.
AUCK 171
Mixed reactions to this book. Some enjoyed it and some didn't. All agreed it was well-written.
CHCH 329
Members found this a satisfying read, which brought up good issues for discussion.
CART 001
Interesting read. Took a bit to get into. The author's use of language was beautiful. Well-written - loved the story within the story. Definitely recommend.
All members really appreciated this book for its skillful writing and issues explored.
WELL 156
Our group, one of the few all men's group, thoroughly enjoyed this book. It seems to be a book by a man for men. General consensus was that one can view this book as four short stories that are woven into a book. Since the stories were written over a period of time, their integration into one book shows how the author's writing style changed over the years. Some criticism of the female character, Margaret, being depicted as a 'perfect woman' and how the male character McIver sees the light to mend his obnoxious behaviour after one short meeting with a therapist. Overall a good discussion.
All members really appreciated this book for its skilful writing and issues explored.