Saturday, September 19, 2009
HEROIC MEASURES by Jill Ciment
From the author of "The Tattoo Artist" this is a poignant novel of resignation, hope and resiliency.
I was captured immediately by the sparse prose in this short but unforgettable novel about two days in the lives of an elderly married couple and their dog living in the East Village of New York.
Ruth, a retired school teacher and Alex, an artist, prepare to put their fifth-floor walk-up on the market. The time has come to find a new home in a building with an elevator for them and their beloved aged dachshund, Dorothy. Due to the post-911 housing market, and an aggressive realtor, Ruth and Alex are asking a million dollars for the apartment they had purchased for five thousand dollars forty years prior.
As they get ready for an open-house, a gas tanker driven by one Abdul Pamir overturns and becomes lodged in the Midtown tunnel. Pamir runs and remains missing. Residents panic in fear that another 9/11 is occurring, and the media has a field day with non-stop television reporting on the "Danger in the Tunnel" implying imminent terrorist attacks.
In the meantime, poor Dorothy has done something to render her back legs paralyzed. In a funny, yet endearing, description, the couple place Dorothy on a bread cutting board and holding either end of the board walk gingerly down five flights of stairs and five blocks to the vet hospital.
With each chapter, the story's perspective changes from Ruth's to Alex's to Dorothy's vantage point. With hearts overturning as they await the outcome of Dorothy's needed surgery, Ruth and Alex also have to deal with the numerous quirky potential buyers who have engaged in a bidding war for their apartment while market prices fluctuate hourly as the "terrorist" remains on the loose.
The book has an abrupt ending that might be unsatisfying for some, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Posted by bp at 1:06 PM
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