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Heroic Measures

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  943 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
From the author of The Tattoo Artist comes a new novel—taut, moving, accomplished—set in a fraught, post-9/11 New York... about real estate, dog love, and a city on alert.

A gasoline tanker truck is “stuck” in the Midtown Tunnel. New Yorkers are panicked... Is this the next big attack?

Alex, an artist, and Ruth, a former schoolteacher with an FBI file as thick as a dictio
Hardcover, 193 pages
Published June 30th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2009)
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Feb 22, 2010 karen rated it it was amazing
this book came closer to making me cry than any book ever has.(said karen, forgetting she has an entire shelf devoted to "books that made me cry" - a regrettable oversight.) there is so much perfect charming poignant love and affection and need and small quiet despair in it,that it touched a little emotional nub that books can't usually find. it's not even particularly sad, it's just a little piece of "right there".

when i was little, and would go to the library seriously all.the.time., they use
Mar 01, 2010 Greg rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Greg by: karen
Not a perfect five, but a very strong four and a half.

Karen reviews this book better than I would. Her review can be found here.

Seriously, Karen's review will be better than this. But here goes my version of the review.

One, for reasons that I don't care to write about, this book got me incredibly depressed. Normal people avoid things that depress them, I on the other hand give them five stars and think they are great, but then work on figuring out all the things in my life I can push as far aw
Jan 28, 2015 Jenbebookish rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I kept hearing people say that this book was like, theeee most amazing book. A particular Goodreads friend who I trust very much when it comes to book recs even claimed this as one of her favorite books! So that being said, I was expecting this lil novel to blow me away.

Well. It didn't blow me away in the manner I expected it to, but I loved it nonetheless. It was a very sweet book about a very sweet subject, one that is very dear to my heart. Dogs! I think any dog lover will first imagine their
May 05, 2015 Skip rated it liked it
I read this book because Karen Brisette loved it. Really. Urban NYers would appreciate it most. The angst of selling/buying NYC apartments and dealing with buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. A post 9-11 terror event. A wonderful substory around an aging dachsund (and her aging owners.) The dog's POV chapters were 5 star. But Jill Ciment forgot the tie up all of her plot lines. Otherwise, a 4 star book.
Sep 11, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
Heroic Measures – Jill Ciment

This was one of a pile of books I took with me to our summer cabin. Others around there hike and fish and golf. We sit on the deck and read. I don’t remember why I picked this book. I think it must have been from a review here at Goodreads.

If your goal is a relaxing, warm fuzzy read, then this is your book. It never gets the slightest bit dark even though it deals with end-of-life issues. An aging couple who wish to sell their walkup apartment in NYC, thereby gainin
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
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 y ...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing
Heroic Measures is a little gem, one of those rare books that you pick up and can't put down, while at the same time you wish it would never end. It is about a couple, Alex and Ruth, and their dachshund Dorothy. One weekend morning Dorothy is not acting herself and shortly afterwards she can not walk. Alex and Ruth rush to the emergency after hours veterinary hospital where they find out that she most likely has a disc problem and will require surgery. Alex and Ruth are a childless couple and Do ...more
Aug 21, 2009 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it it was amazing
I loved the writing style of this little gem of a book, and that the author was able to convey so much with so few words. Her character development was deft and convincing despite the spare prose and I really cared about these interesting people. I was engaged from the first page.

Ruth and Alex, a childless, elderly couple who have lived in the East Village for 50 years, need to sell their apartment --- the stairs to their fifth-floor walkup have become just too much for them to handle. The story
Elizabeth Green
Dec 26, 2014 Elizabeth Green rated it it was amazing
5 out of 5 stars!!

This book follows three main characters Ruth, Alex, and Dorothy, their dog. The book is set shortly after 9/11 in side New York City. Ruth and Alex are getting up there in age and are faced with the decision of selling their apartment and moving. This is a big change in their life that they are struggling emotionally and mentally to make. Along with making a huge decision they are trying to help Dorothy after she hurts herself. While all of this is going on New York City and it
Jul 29, 2009 Ken rated it liked it
Heroic Measures follows Alex and Ruth Cohen through a chaotic New York City weekend circa 2002 as the elderly couple simultaneously holds an open house for the East Village apartment and deals with the beloved dachsund's life-threatening back injury, all against the backdrop of a potential terrorist threat playing endlessly on the local news.

Both Alex and Ruth are charply drawn characters. Ruth, a retired schoolteacher and former subject of FBI investigations during the McCarthy years, fears for
Jun 26, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
To be clear, I have not been reading this 200ish page novel for the last three months, regardless of any information conveyed or implied by this profile.
I got this book at a used book store, and purchased it based on its merits of a) having great reviews from prominent publications, b)having a dachshund on the cover and c) purportedly being about a dachshund.
I am pleased to say that Heroic Measures, is, indeed, about a dachshund, which is really all you need to know about this small, gem of a n
Jun 08, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
This is an homage to New York and the wonderful people who live in it. It's a short read which is nearly perfect in it's depiction of what life is like in the big city. We follow Ruth and Alex, a couple in their 70's, and their dachshund, Dorothy, during a tumultuous weekend in which a tanker truck filled with gasoline gets stuck in the Midtown tunnel and its driver disappears. As the whole city holds its breath waiting to see if this is a terrorist attack, Dorothy suddenly collapses and can't u ...more
Printable Tire
You wouldn't think a novel about an old couple trying to sell their apartment and take care of their old dog would be such a page-turner, but it is. Part of its ability to be one is its sparse prose, which lacks anything but the most necessary ornamentation, and is somehow able to make you forget after a while you are reading a dog's perspective. Part of the suspense is also built around a sub-plot surrounding a potential terrorist on the loose and the media circus that creates.

The terrorist med
Sep 10, 2011 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What a lovely gentle story. An old couple's dear daschund is suddenly paralysed, and they need to help their dog while at the same time deal with the practical details of selling their New York City apartment, all in the midst of a possible terrorist attack. The real estate dealing is funny, the dog point of view is cute but kept minimal, and the author nicely weaves in Chekhov's famous short story of "The Woman With the Pet Dog" . The city of New York is as much a character as Alex and Ruth and ...more
Kayla Cagan
A picture-postcard of a family in New York City, post-scare. Stunning, sad, surprisingly funny and all in a perfectly succinct novel. I never cried but read the book- a gift from a friend who lives in Brooklyn- with a lump in my throat the whole time.

The tension is both emotional and physical in the story, and feels exceptionally real. And some of my favorite characters are the neighborhood New Yorkers, who are drawn in the perfect shades and hues of the city.

Big thumbs up for this little nove
Oct 11, 2011 Koeeoaddi rated it really liked it
[At the vet's office] "...a cartoon of a little dog, a stick, and an elderly couple scotch- taped to the back of the door

Man: Fetch.

Little Dog: Oy, I got a pain in my tail from wagging so much, my stomach hurts from that lousy dog food, when are we going for a walk, already?

Woman: He thinks you said "kvetch". "

I love this book!"
Sep 06, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
Wow, what a sweet little book. It manages to cover a lot of stuff in a small space -- aging, love, friendship, real estate, the terror threat, xenophobia, New Yorkers, Chekhov, and dogs and how we love them. And it's not, in the end, sentimental at all. Good, life-affirming stuff; kind of a perfect book to wind up on September 11.
Mar 14, 2014 Sasha rated it really liked it
A very major thing was spoiled by an untagged review!!! But this book is insanely heart-tugging and quietly lovely: read if you like dogs, adorable old couples, people with FBI dossiers and if you think that people who lie down on a bed at open houses "to see the view from the window" are rude.
Sep 12, 2015 Hella rated it did not like it
I want more.
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 24, 2015 Kasa Cotugno rated it it was amazing
A wonderful New York novel. Written with today's paranoias and conflicts. Partly told through the eyes of a loving family pet. Read in one sitting.
For Books' Sake
Sep 09, 2015 For Books' Sake rated it really liked it
Heroic Measures is the bittersweet tale of a couple of aging New Yorkers and their beloved dachshund Dorothy; and what happens when the city you once knew so well becomes a stranger.

Originally published in 2009, Heroic Measures quickly hit paydirt when selected for literary queenmaker Oprah Winfrey’s annual summer reading list. Jill Ciment’s fourth novel – followed by Act of God in March 2015 – it is now rereleased in the wake of 5 Flights Up, a charming film adaptation starring Diane Keaton and
May 01, 2016 Kiwiflora rated it it was amazing
Alex and Ruth Cohen have been married 45 years, lived all that time in New York City, and now with the frailties of older age beginning to become apparent, have put their much loved apartment on the market, to hopefully be replaced by one in a building with an operational lift. So open homes to organise, and open homes to attend. Realtors to deal with in their selling and more realtors to deal with in their purchasing. As if that is not enough to be going on with, their adored pet dachshund Doro ...more
Feb 19, 2017 Beth rated it really liked it
This would've been a 5 star review however I really felt like this book just kind of ended! It felt rather rushed to me personally, but other than that it was an absolutely fantastic book and would totally recommend it!
Eric Klee
Sep 30, 2014 Eric Klee rated it liked it
Heroic Measures is the tale of an elderly couple with plans to sell their New York City apartment in an elevator-less building in favor of an apartment in a building with an elevator. Meanwhile, their senior dachshund can't walk one day, so they have to rush him to the vet for emergency back surgery, and there's a maybe terrorist on the loose in NYC that sends the city into a panic. That's the entire plot for the novel, and it works well for the most part.

If you're a pet lover that has ever had
Debbie Kinsey
Heroic Measures centres around Ruth and Alex, who need to leave their apartment because they can no longer manage the stairs, their sick Dachshund Dorothy, and a suspected terrorist plot to blow up a nearby tunnel. The narration seamlessly switches between Ruth, Alex, and Dorothy. Yes, Dorothy the dog. It sounds gimmicky but, somehow, it works.

It’s a book about how life goes on, even in the face of personal crises (like a sick beloved pet) or wider crises (like a possible terrorist on the loose
Terri Vlasak
Mar 03, 2012 Terri Vlasak rated it liked it
I recommend the book. It is an easy read, at once pleasant, complex and thoughtful. On the simplest level, Alex and Ruth are 70-plus year old Manhattanites who must sell their apartment - the 5 flights of steps they must climb to reach it are becoming too much for them. They need to move to an apt with an elevator - hopefully in the same neighborhood. As they prepare for their open house, their beloved dog Dorothy - an aging dachsund - collapses in pain and must be rushed to the vet. To complica ...more
David Jay
Jan 23, 2016 David Jay rated it really liked it
I feel like you need to be a New Yorker to really appreciate this book.

An elderly couple have been living in the same 5th story walk-up for over 50 years and, in the wake of 9/11, decide to sell, realizing they won't be able to handle the stairs for much longer, and, hopefully, have enough money to move into an elevator building. Immediately prior to their open house, their dog, Dorothy, also elderly, takes ill and is off to the animal hospital. All of this unfolds against the mania that was ev
Kay Fair
Sep 25, 2009 Kay Fair rated it really liked it
Just plane reading. Heroic Measures, by Jill Ciment is one of those novels that writers love. It reminds us what a true artist of the craft can do in taking a seemingly trivial and peripheral story and somehow make us care. The story centers around an elderly couple in New York City, attempting to sell their apartment amidst the personal crisis of their dachshund's pending surgery, as well as the city-wide crisis of a possible terrorist attack in the Midtown Tunnel. By all logic, this novel shou ...more
Jan 30, 2010 Laura rated it liked it
After forty-five years negotiating the stairs of their five floor East Village walk-up apartment, septuagenarians Alex and Ruth have decided it’s time to move. They’ve contemplated retirement communities and luxury islands off the Southern coast, but their New York roots are too strong and they decide to search for an elevator building in the same neighborhood. They find it comforting to know they won’t have to change pharmacies.
As if finding the perfect New York apartment weren’t a daunting e
Donna Barnes
Jun 24, 2015 Donna Barnes rated it really liked it
Our book club is busy tis month reading books that we will see on the screen very soon, and the first on the list for me was this book, which will be renamed "Fifth Floor" as a film, starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman as the older married couple trying to sell their co-op brownstone apartment which is on the fifth floor and getting a bit tough for them to climb to day in and day out --- they are also worried about their dachshund Dorothy who needs a back operation. But wait, there's more - ...more
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What's The Name o...: Elderly couple need to move to elevator building [s] 7 24 Jun 13, 2014 03:33PM  
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Jill Ciment was born in Montreal, Canada. She is the author of Small Claims, a collection of short stories and novellas; The Law of Falling Bodies, Teeth of the Dog, The Tattoo Artist, and Heroic Measures, novels; and Half a Life, a memoir. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts, a NEA Japan Fellowship Prize, two New York State Fellowships for the Arts, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Pr ...more
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