Heroic Measures

6415806Author: Jill Ciment
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: More please, Realistic fiction, Recipe for awesomesauce

New York City is on high alert—a gasoline truck is 
“stuck” in the Midtown tunnel and the driver has 
fled. Through panic and gridlock, Alex and Ruth 
must transport their beloved old dachshund—whose 
back legs are suddenly paralyzed—to the animal 
hospital, using a cutting board as a stretcher. 
But this is also the weekend when Alex and Ruth 
must sell the apartment in which they have lived 
for most of their adult lives. Over the course of 
forty-eight hours, as the mystery of the missing 
truck driver terrorizes the city and the dachshund’s
life hangs in the balance, the bidding war over 
their apartment becomes a barometer for collective 
hope and despair. Told in shifting points of 
view—Alex’s, Ruth’s, and the little dog’s—Heroic 
Measures is a moving, deft novel about urban anxiety
and the love that deepens over years.

I like books with old or animals. I like ’em because, in real life, I’ve never been, probably never will be close to my grandparents, or animals. But then I absolutely hate portrayals of old people/animals as these veterans at everything who give advice, advice, advice. Heroic Measures is specifically marvelous in the sense that it’s brought me closer to two people and a dog whose lives ordinarily, on the surface wouldn’t garner my interest, much less engagement. It reminded me(not a lot, mind you) of The Snow Child, which I lovedlovedloved, and I think that says almost all.

This is the story of Ruth and Alex, an old couple looking to sell their cow apartment, and their dog, Dorothy, whose hind portion is paralyzed, set amidst panic and frenzy of New York real estate and suicide bombers.

I loved each and every aspect of this book, beginning with:

1)Ruth and Alex. Ruth uncovers unfeasible truths about herself which don’t right with her. In the end, however, it’s Alex who reverts to the aforementioned. Their subdued voices while everyone else is running around or sitting tight-they do that themselves but in a tired way, just finally wanting their rewards because they are already selling their goddamn cow home.

2)Dorothy. I love that although Ciment ascribed emotions to the dog, enough that we could connect with her, feel for her not in a patronizing way but actually sympathize, Dorothy still never came across as a human: she was a dog in her full rights. And thank god! she wasn’t silly or cartoon-like. Never once did the book try to force me into loving Dorothy-like oh she’s so cute and blah di dah love her! fucking love her! I hate that. :<

3)The setting. Like I said, big bad New York. However, the best thing was how profoundly it affected Ruth and Alex, yet not in the way one would expect. It almost forms a contrast-like two separate worlds whose circumferences touch at points. New York and its lunatics and people who think Muslim’s a language, and Ruth and Alex’s.

4)The writing! It was simplistic, subdued; emotion was doled out but never to overwhelm or affect the reader. Yep, the reader wasn’t even a part of this story: it didn’t factor the reader in, nor play out for their sake.

And that cover? Just perfect.

Sooooooooooo? Love this book, read this book. Or the other way round.



5 thoughts on “Heroic Measures

  1. WHATTT??? Muslim isn’t a language? I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS. I think I need to go to the time out corner now.

    I likes the sound of this though. And I LOVE that the dog wasn’t cartoonized (is that a word?? I am told it isn’t. WELL IT IS NOW). I am tired of reading animal perspectives that make animals sound like humans when they are NOT. Seriously, unless I am reading a children’s book, let’s not do that.

    I am glad you enjoyed this so much, Stuti, I’ll definitely need to look this up even if I am not completely sure because reading about old people isn’t for me right now. The last time I tried I ended up getting bored even though the book itself was pretty profound.

    Fantastic review, as ALWAYS!

    • You are way too nice, as ALWAYS. Profound book, though? Bleh. They bore the fuck outta me. Profoundity(I CAN DO IT TOO) is overrated. But this one doesn’t have much action in the way that you’re probably used to so I’d be careful giving about this one a try were I you. 🙂

  2. Howdy Stephen Elliot. I just got a letter dated 1/19/12 from Lorelie Lee in an envelope from you. We have no idea whatsoever how I got on your list. But I’ll write Lorelie again (a real letter, even), because it was pretty fucking brave of her to write that.

Hush there. People will hear. Why don't you type it out instead?

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