Old Friends

Kidder, Tracy. Old Friends. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

There are many reviews about Old Friends that start off with, “this was hard to read.” I have to wonder how many of those reviewers are administrators at retirement/nursing/convalescent homes. Do they see their own facilities as described by Kidder? It is easy to flash back to the experiences of a loved one in such a place. My own grandparents lingered in nursing homes until their deaths. I can remember the overwhelming smell of antiseptic and urine; my father reading an activity board and commenting on a “mystery” ride. “Just don’t get into any any black, squared vehicles” he quipped. Funny, But not. Kidder’s account of life inside Linda Manor is frank and unflinching. He also writes with a profound sensitivity, introducing patients as people with past lives and present feelings. They aren’t subjects used to illustrate a point. You feel for these people because their character development is as fleshed out as if it were a fictional account. It’s beautiful in a haunting way.

Quote that struck me, “People entering nursing homes have, for the most part, already lost control over their lives” (p 23).

Reason read: September is National Aging Month

Author fact: Kidder spent a year researching life at Linda Manor, even checking himself in as a resident.

Book trivia: There is a rumor that Kidder’s father is described in this book. I didn’t investigate to confirm or deny.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 300s” (p 67).

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