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Heroic Measures

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 ratings  ·  252 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 2009)
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,152 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Feb 22, 2010 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 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 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 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.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 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
Sep 11, 2009 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
Aug 21, 2009 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
Krous Leocadio
The movie is way better than this
Elizabeth Green
Dec 26, 2014 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 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 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 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 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
Audrey Tiernan
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A beautifully written gem of a book that is short in length but long on impact. I didn't want it to end and keep thinking about lessons learned from the protagonists an elderly couple, Ruth and Alex and their sweet old dachshund Dorothy. Heroic Measures is a real sleeper but it isn't a simple book. In less than 200 pages, Ciment develops characters (including Dorothy the dachshund) that we really care about and will continue to think about long after the book is finished. It is a remarkable nove ...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 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 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.
Sally Parcels
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Character Captured

What a great read. I almost never read a book twice but this one is so insightful and honest, that I will peruse its depths again. It is as though one could be looking at the wallpaper of their own mind being removed to reveal truth.
Mar 14, 2014 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.
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 24, 2015 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.
Sherry H
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The company that I’ve worked for for 29 years has gone out of business, and I was released from my job earlier this summer (with a severance package that allows me to take time to find the right new job). How does one fill a summer off? Yes, job-hunting. Also, reading, seeing friends, doing projects around the house, binge-watching old episodes of ER… when someone recently asked what I was doing this summer, I replied that I’m having the “Summer of George”.

For those readers who are also fans of
Cherise Wolas
This is the third Ciment novel I've read these last few months. The Body in Question and Act of God and now Heroic Measures are all enormously different and compelling in their own ways. Like the others, Heroic Measures is short, 174 pages, and deep. In each book, something horrible comes into the lives of the characters. In Body in Question - a child's murder, in Act of God, luminous and growing radioactive mushrooms, and in Heroic Measures, a gas tanker overturned in a tunnel and the driver, P ...more
Sara Tiede
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Pytlak
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this Dachshund book - about an aging dog named Dorothy and her aging human companions. The couple are trying to get a new apartment in NYC, there is a terror scare in the city, and their beloved dog needs medical attention. What I like about the book is that the everyday life moments do not stop because the city is paralyzed. The author also writes very well from the dog's point of view, something I have found cringeworthy in some other animal books.


(view spoiler)
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This short, well written novel is about a lovely old couple, living in NYC. They concurrently deal with the sudden illness of their dog, the buying and selling of their urban dwelling, and a potential terrorist loose in the city. While I found the story touching and beautiful, I just didn't love it as other readers have.
Saras Nandiasha
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jean Schnell
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a slice of life/character book. I can appreciate the lives of an older couple beginning to make difficult decisions about downsizing, and about their dog Dorothy who was family for them. Nothing major happens in this book, but it is true to life. My only complaint is that the book ended too quickly.
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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
“Old age robs you of every last illusion, even the belief in your own goodness.” 1 likes
“The stupid girl thinks Muslim is a language.” 0 likes
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