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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 Dorothy is like a child to them. At times, couples that treat dogs like children can seem corny, but in the hands of an author like Ciment, we empathize with Alex and Ruth and grow to love Dorothy as if she were our own.

At the same time that Dorothy is hospitalized, Alex and Ruth are in the process of selling their 5 floor walk-up condominium. Alex is 78 years old and Ruth is 74. They would like to use the money from the sale of their condo to buy a condo with an elevator. They are getting on in years and are feeling the difficulty of walking five flights of stairs every time they come or go.

Also occurring at this time is a crisis in Manhattan. An Exxon truck has jack-knifed in the Midtown Tunnel and the driver has left the scene. There are questions as to whether he is a terrorist. He has kidnapped a taxi driver and stuffed him in the trunk of the taxi. Traffic in Manhattan is at a stand-still, cabs have been called off the streets, and Alex and Ruth are having trouble getting to the animal hospital to visit Dorothy. They are also looking at condos to buy and find one that they love. However, they are not sure how the current crisis with the suspected terrorist is effecting housing bids. They are hoping to get enough money for their condo so that buying a new condo will be an even trade.

Ciment writes with a languishing loveliness and a straight-forward dialogue. In a book of less than 200 pages, she develops characters so that the reader feels like she knows them deeply and well. I refer not just to the human characters, but to Dorothy as well. Ciment is an artist who uses few words to evoke deep wells. She is an expert in conveying myriad emotions and establishing empathy for her characters despite their foibles.

This book is a must-read. It is remarkable in so many ways - - the narrative, the characterizations, the emotive quality and sensibility,and the empathic quality of the writing. I consider it one of the best books that I have read this year.
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This is an elegantly-written, slice-of-life novel that focuses on a fraught 48-hour period in New York City. A reported terrorist has just rammed his gasoline tank into the Midtown Tunnel, the populace is holding its breath, and yet an elderly couple, Alex and Ruth, have bigger concerns: their 12-year-old dachshund, Dorothy -- the child they never had -- is suddenly paralyzed and needs immediate emergency surgery. And, to make things more frenetic, they are attempting to sell their walk-up and buy a dream apartment.

There is not one false note in this moving and authentically-told book. Anyone who loves dogs will totally relate to the lengths Alex and Ruth go to save their "fur-baby". (My Maltese, Reggie, has passed his 17th birthday, and more than once, I sighed and nodded in recognition). In some ways, Dorothy is a symbol of New York itself -- tenacious in her hold on life and willing to weather any storm to fight on.

Yet this book is laced with humor. Those who have had it up to here with T.V. pundits and well-groomed news anchors who haven't a clue will LOVE the constant drivel that passes for news these days. Comment such as, "A poll suggests that most New Yorkers think that terrorists take drugs" or "Over 50 percent say they would not give themselves up based on their mother's pleas" is dead-on in its accuracy.

All in all, this book is really about resiliency and miracles. Will Dorothy make it home? (And yes, there are some parallels with the Wizard of Oz...the traveler in a strange land). Will Alex and Ruth get their dream apartment in the midst of a bidding war? Will New York itself survive unscathed? This book will wean its way into your heart and stay there long after you close the last page.
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on February 17, 2014
I don't know how a book about an elderly couple looking for an apartment building with an elevator, a dog with a back problem and a possible terrorist threat in New York works, but it did. I couldn't stop reading. I really enjoyed this book.
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on September 4, 2014
Thought provoking and well written. Heroic measures is the story of an older couple looking to move out of their walk-up apartment in New York. They try to sell their home at the same time their elderly dog is hurt AND there is a potential terrorist loose in the city. This is really well written with several moments of beautiful examination of the difficulties of growing older and holding onto your humanity. While this is a somewhat quiet and introspective book, I really enjoyed it.
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on February 28, 2010
This book, although short, was one of the best I've read this year. I finished it within hours of downloading it.

The temporal and physical scope of the book is limited, taking place over the course of one weekend, mostly in the old couple's apartment. But its political, emotional, and societal commentary are ambitious and far-reaching. Ciment juxtaposes the small drama of the couple's sick dog and their attempts to buy and sell a flat with a potential terrorist attack on New York City, raising issues around aging, loyalty, and affection in a country gone mad with post-9/11 paranoia.

Not only is her plot tightly laid out and her writing superb, but her character development is solid, and quickly draws you in to the lives and petty dramas of these two wonderful old people and their dog.

This book has the perfect trifecta: good plot, good writing, and good characters. It's simple yet subtle, funny yet poignant, and wholly absorbing throughout. My only complaint is that I felt the Kindle price point was disproportionate to how short the book is. Otherwise, highly recommended.
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on March 4, 2016
This was an enjoyable light read that brought comfort in meeting the three stars of the story: Dorothy the dog, Ruth and Alex. The sweet older couple are ready to move house and we follow along on their feelings about this as well as how the market behaves when things in NYC go awry. Worth it for a mindless read that brings you close to the characters involved.
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on December 10, 2009
After having 'given up' on some heady books (something I don't like to do), stumbled upon "Heroic Measures". It's a quick read but I enjoyed every bit of it. It probably helped that I live in Manhattan and have had 2 dachshunds with back problems (both were operated at what I suspect is the same hospital on the East Side), but even without those qualifications, it is an incredibly charming book. It is also not what I call 'too cute' - cloyingly sweet or silly. The story moves at a very fast pace, and there are several plots/sub plots that keep developing throughout the book. In addition to the 2 main characters, adorable Ruth and Alex, really loved Dorothy (the dachshund)'s POV. Go indulge.
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on September 19, 2009
Dorothy the Dachshund, aka Dottie, is the aging and beloved companion of seventy-ish couple Alex and Ruth. Life reaches a crisis for all three on the day that they schedule an open house for their New York walk-up apartment, a terrorist wrecks a (bomb laden?) truck in a nearby tunnel, and Dorothy wakes up paralyzed.

Ciment is a master of human (and canine) understanding: growing old is even more difficult than we expect, loving means potential loss and heartbreak, and within the human and canine heart lies the ability to cope.

Alex, Ruth, and Dottie face adversity and they triumph, much to this reader's delight.
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on June 17, 2015
I loved it especially the couples relationship with Dorothy, and the process of selling and finding an apartment as well as where they were in their lives. I could kind of relate at fifty seven and being an animal lover with on Bichon and three cats wo has put down three dogs in her life and four cats. Dede
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on July 4, 2015
What a lovely little novel, with a gimlet eye on Manhattan real estate and a poignant portrait of an elderly couple facing their own limitations and those of the city they love. There's a marvelous section fromThe point of view of their (equally aging) dog. A delightful read.
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