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Old Friends

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  491 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Now in paperback, the national bestseller on growing old. Tracy Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize and countless other awards for his bestselling studies of ordinary life. Now he confronts his most important and universal theme in this personal study of old age in America.
Published September 6th 1994 by Mariner Books (first published September 1st 1993)
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Community Reviews

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Thom Dunn
What would you label Tracy Kidder's books. Non-fiction ? No, too much dialogue....Here, for example we hear the conversation about end-of-life alternatives between doctor and diabetic patient. Call it fiction ? Again, impossible, Kidder is a Rembrandt of realism. Like Home, this is a how-to book or a how-it-was for being old and still living rather than "waiting for death". Endorsement on back cover of Strength in What Remains calls him the master of "narrative non-fiction". Close enough.
This book was very difficult for me to get through, not because it was poorly written but quite the contrary. Kidder's lucent prose brings the sadness and loneliness of the nursing home to vivid life. It's possible that reading this soon after my own grandmother died, much diminished, was unwise. It's haunting and frightening and well-done but I can't say I liked it. I suffered through it in an agony of projection and reflection and grief. Even so, I recommend it- if for nothing else than to bri ...more
Last night I happened to read an article by a Mom who visited two high schools with her daughter. The student guide at both, as it happened, told how hilarious senior night was, when the seniors dressed as old people, tottering on canes, bent, with quavering voices, white socks, trousers pulled up to their ribs, etc.
Ok, I get it. They are kids, they are part of our culture, they are dealing in the usual stereotype.
In stark contrast, Kidder's book goes behind the canes and thick glasses and spe
Apr 10, 2013 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
I love Tracey Kidder's book Among Schoolchildren. I recently reread it, and realized that he had a number of other titles I hadn't tried. So I reserved this one without really looking at what it was about.
A couple of months ago, I fell and broke my hip. I had surgery, followed by several weeks rehab in a nursing home. It was my first time in one for anything more than a short visit, and I came away with some pretty strong reactions. So it was a bit of a shock for me to find that this book is se
This book is about the residents of a nursing home that Tracy Kidder visited over a one-year period beginning in fall of 1990. It caught my eye because my father recently entered an assisted living facility, and I'm of an age where the parents of friends are entering similar facilities. I'm curious about what life is like for people who can't live in their own homes any more. I was afraid it might be a real downer of a book, but it wasn't. It has plenty of sadness and loneliness in it, and it ma ...more
Donna Gabbard
While I found it a bit depressing to read about those who spend their last years in a nursing home, it was encouraging to meet those who "continued to live" in spite of being in such a dreary setting. The friendship between Lou and Joe was really sweet. It was also inspiring to read about the faithfulness of Ruth in visiting her father most everyday. I am interested in reading more from this author.
This was a hard book to keep reading. Not because it wasn't well written or engaging, but because I like being in a a state of aging denial, and this book kept making it real. I pressed ahead, because I was interested in the stories of Joe and Lou, two old friends. They had only known each other for 2 years, so not long time friends, but literally "old friends". I like Tracy Kidder's writing and I am glad he didn't give up all the info on Joe and Lou at the beginning. I learned to like them both ...more
p. 322
Joe's obituary would be shorter than the prematurely written one, but his life had expanded. That was the remarkable fact. Strangely, he had changed himself in here, inside a nursing home, of all places. He'd done the opposite of what might have been predicted. One might have thought such a fiery temperament would expend itself in fury at the irritations and confinements of this place. But when his powers to act had greatly diminished, Joe had taken control of his life. He’d done so by gai
I love everything about this work; its character development, its setting, its plot, its theme, its descriptions, its dialogs, its deep reflections, the author's vocabulary, his style, his sentence structure that makes the reading a pleasure, but most of all, what makes this work unforgettable is its humanity. I had this book sitting on my shelf a long time and never felt strong enough to read it, thinking by the description sitting down to read it would depress me. Having crossed that indelible ...more
Well, I love Kidder's books. He writes a documentary as enjoyable to me as fiction. (is that a weird statement or what--reminds me of when I wrote a short story for a newspaper contest, the editor called me because she liked my story and wanted me to write more, but wouldn't use it for the contest because it didn't have enough plot for fiction--so fiction has more plot than real life???) This one was perhaps a bit too close to home as I watch Mom age daily. I came to feel that I knew the residen ...more
Lynn McMillen
I did not love this. It rambled and seemed to have no real objective. Was it fiction? Non fiction? I kept thinking there would be a very important point made about growing old or nursing home living....but got all the way to the end and still was puzzled. So much more could have been said.
Jerrine Regester
Humorous yet touching and real account of life for our elders in nursing homes. Kidder's focus on the relationship between Lou and Joe teaches us we can make new friends at any stage of our lives and love them as if we have known them our whole lives. Tracy Kidder is one of my favorite writers.
I read this book in 1994.

Tracy chronicles the events of people for a full year, setting is Linda Manor, a "new" nursing home in Western Massachusetts. The 2 main residents that Tracy "shadows" are Lou Freed and Joe Torchio, Lou is the elder of the 2 by about 20 years, he's in his 90's and a widower, Joe is in his 70's, his wife lives nearby. Lou and Joe, from very diverse cultural backgrounds, become friends due to their unusual circumstances of becoming room-mates.

Tracy's gift of writing takes
I felt this book provided a rather accurate reflection of day-to-day life of residents in a nursing home. The book was rather slow-paced, but so can be life in a nursing home, so I guess that just adds to the accuracy! As always, Tracy Kidder has crafted a well-written book. Although, I wish he would have added more of his own personal reflections and interpretations (as he's done in his more recent books I've read) because I'm sure I would have found his thoughts interesting. I think this book ...more
This is one of Tracy Kidder's earlier books....I'm still catching up. He has a wonderful style and deals with the topics of living and dying. This nonfiction book takes place in a "good" nursing home. The point is made that the people here are cared for and cared about. The "old friends" are not so much friends of long-standing, but "old" friends--two unlikely roommates in the nursing home. The 90 something Jewish man of patience and the 70 something, who is just as likely to start a fight as no ...more
Andy Plonka
Many people like to find faults for homes run for the elderly, Kidder points out in this poignant work some of the good that is also found in well run establishments.
Jan 14, 2010 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I really enjoyed this book, just finished it today. Tracy Kidder has a reputation for being able to take any subject and make it really interesting, and this was no exception. He spent a year at Linda Manor nursing home, doing research for the book, and recounts the daily lives, feelings, experiences, of the people living there.

[Now in paperback, the national bestseller on growing old. Tracy Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize and countless other awards for his bestselling studies of ordinary life
Jun 27, 2015 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Colchester library book sale summer 2015
Loved this book. Takes place in a nursing home. Wonderful character development. It really is an insiders view of everyday life at "Linda Manor". Why did I like the book so much? The characters were my friends' parents.....and then I look at the ages.....and they are not much older than I am. I have friends of these ages. Am I reading about my contemporaries? Some might find this a sad book. I saw it as a portrayal of real life and friendships that develop. I will read other books by Tracy Kidde ...more
I liked Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains much better. After reading that, Old Friends is kind of a let-down. I give Kidder a high score for description of the setting and people in Old Friends, which takes place in a nursing home, but the book is not nearly as gripping as Paul Farmer's life. To Kidder's credit, his subject matter in Old Friends was extremely difficult to make interesting, and he did an admirable job, but the story still seems lacking in some aspects.
Kris Johnson
boring plot line - i listened to about 1/3 rd of book.
Cory Fosco
Kidder did not know what his story was going to be about when he decided to write about a MA based nursing home. What he found was a strong and compelling relationship between two men. This book's strength is Kidder's ability to write about people. There are many interconnecting stories being told about the residents and staff of this nursing home and Kidder does a great job of bringing it all together in an entertaining way.
In the 80's I read Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine. I remember being so rivited by it that I read it twice. The subject of his next books didn't interest me and I forgot about him. Recently I picked up this one - about the residents of a nursing home in New England. It was interesting to meet all the people. Not riviting but interesting.
Audrey Weis
Though I never thought I'd like a book about a nursing home, this one is a keeper! I loved getting to know the characters and cheered them on through their various obstacles. Though parts did indeed produce tears,there is nothing melodramatic or sappy about the writing - just a glimpse into real lives in a real place.
On one hand, bittersweet story of two men who become roomates and, eventually, friends, at a retirement home. On the other hand, an indictment of the way we treat the elderly in the U.S. Highly recommended, along with his other books.
Nicholas Braus
i enjoyed every minute of this book. Kidder is a master.

"The central problem of life at Linda Manor is, after all, only the universal problem of separateness: the original punishment, the ultimate vulnerability, the enemy of meaning."
This was okay. Wouldn't read it again, nor would I recommend it particularly, but it's a touching story of two elderly men and their friends at a retirement home. Kidder writes beautifully, although the book moves slowly.
This is my favorite Kidder book. He spend a year in a nursing home. Some of the characters have lived with me ever since. The judge and his roommate and how their relationship develops is unforgettable.
Julie Barrett
old friends by john tracey kidder
2 old men in a little room and they talk of their past, sorrow, life,
they live in a nursing home. Lou Fried and Joe Tokeyo are in the same
room at the nursing home.
Documentary read of life at the end of the line, the culture and community of a particularly lively nursing home, and what it might feel like to be contemplating death. (Contemp lit; 300+ pages)
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Tracy Kidder is an American author and Vietnam War veteran. Kidder may be best known, especially within the computing community, for his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine, an account of the development of Data General's Eclipse/MV minicomputer. The book typifies his distinctive style of research. He began following the project at its inception and, in addition to interviews, spent c ...more
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