Two old men in a little room. Together they represent some one hundred and sixty years of memory, of hope and achievement and sorrow - of life. They are residents of Linda Manor, a nursing home. What will become of them now? Once again, in the humble materials of daily life, Tracy Kidder - the author of House and Among Schoolchildren - has discovered a story of breathtaking intensity and depth. Old Friends introduces us to Lou Freed and Joe Torchio, strangers thrust together as roommates. They discover, as Kidder writes, that the problem of Linda Manor is "the universal problem of separateness", and we watch as, movingly, they set about solving it, with camaraderie and friendship, and ultimately love. Tracy Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize and countless other awards for his best-selling portraits of American life. Now he confronts his greatest theme in this close-in study of old age. With the exactitude and the rich human sympathies for which he has become famous, Kidder opens up this world to us as if it were a wondrous new country - a country that turns out to be very like one's native land. Old Friends takes place almost entirely in Linda Manor, and its residents become urgently alive - struggling still with their circumstances, their pasts, and the challenge of living a moral life. For all its unflinching reportage, Old Friends is laced with comedy, sometimes with gentle wit, sometimes with farce. In the end, it reminds us of the great continuities, of the possibilities for renewal in the face of mortality, of the survival to the very end of all that is truly essential about life. This is Tracy Kidder's most affecting, and most important, book to date.
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