<B>Sukey's favorite</B> A brilliant fiction debut is usually the prerogative of the young, but Peter Pouncey, president emeritus of Amherst College, defies that generalization with <B>Rules for Old Men Waiting</B>, a small gem that is spare, beautifully crafted and intensely moving. Robert MacIver, a long-retired war historian who once played rugby for Scotland, is the old man who makes the rules rules to get himself through his last days alone in his house on Cape Cod where his beloved wife recently died. One of his rules is to work every day, and that "work" evolves into a smaller, equally brilliant story-within-a-story of class and honor and betrayal in the trenches of the First World War. But when MacIver sits alone, living in his own thoughts, we hear his story of wars, one that took his father, one that took his son and the marriage and love that withstood loss and rage. Simon Vance's faultless reading mirrors every nuance in this extraordinary novel.