Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
I read this novel several weeks ago. Some books are pretty much gone from your mind as soon as the last page is read. However, "Heroic Measures: a Novel" by Jill Ciment is one of those books that I find myself thinking about still.
The action is telescoped into a long winter weekend in New York City, and the plot is simple. Alex and Ruth Cohen, a couple in their 70's, have set up an open house to try and sell their apartment, where they have lived for all 45 years of their married life, Ruth is a retired English teacher, and Alex an artist, whose current project is illuminating the pages of their fairly lengthy FBI files from years ago. Childless, Ruth and Alex have an aging dachshund named Dorothy, whose legs suddenly won't function, and Dorothy requires immediate veterinary attention. At about the same time, a tanker truck jackknifes in the Midtown tunnel, and speculation grows that it's a terrorist plot to blow up the tunnel and create havoc in the city.
Alex and Ruth set out on foot with Dorothy to reach the animal clinic, in a city snarled in traffic because of the tanker truck stuck in the tunnel. Residents are afraid and unsure, despite(or possible because of) ongoing sensational TV coverage. The apartment open house goes forward, with a variety of potential buyers parading through.
Various subplots run parallel to one another, weaving intricately together to show many different points of view. The story has humor, which sounds amazing given the serious plot elements, and it has wonderful, unforgettable characters.
This is a quick read, a jewel in a small package. I'll be searching out more books by this author.