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OLD FRIENDS

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OLD FRIENDS Tracy Kidder (Houghton Mifflin, $22.95) This indelible documentary is written like a novel. Read it if you’re planning to get old, or if you think our elderly, stowed away in nursing homes, are peacefully resigned. ”I think about kicking the bucket. But not much. I want to get home,” says one. It’s rich in painful images: ”A woman in a wheelchair across the lobby began weeping, waving at her departing husband’s car.” But within such despondency, this Pulitzer Prize-winning writer finds unexpected inspiration, like a wife’s comforting words as her husband faces death: ”It’ll just come quickly and whatever adventures lie ahead you’ll just enter them.” And the title refers to two old men whose last years together are both a frightening tale and a beautiful survival story. A

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