by Jill Ciment
What a little gem this book is.
Heroic Measures covers a weekend in the lives of Alex and Ruth, who are in their late seventies, and their elderly dachshund, Dorothy. They have been thinking for a while that they should give up their co-op because it is a five-flight walk-up. It would be nice to have an elevator, but they feel conflicted about moving, just as anyone would who has lived in the same place for a long time. Ruth is a retired teacher, and Alex is an artist. He is currently at work on a very special project.
As monks once illuminated the Bible with gold leaf and devotion, he is illuminating the seven-hundred-and-fifty-page file that the FBI had kept on Ruth and him during the heyday of the cold war.
Another alternative would be to do as Ruth’s sister recommends and move to Florida where she is. But Ruth
tries to imagine her and Alex in Fort Myers, clad in their dark New York clothes, and Dorothy with her bad back, crossing six lanes of traffic and then miles of sun-blistering parking lots just to have a bite out or to pick up some milk and bread.
This is a very full weekend for this couple who usually lead a quiet life. The realtor shows the co-op to many people, Alex and Ruth look for new home, Dorothy is suddenly paralyzed, and there is a crisis in the city. It is just a few years since 9/11, and a truck has stopped in a tunnel. It isn’t known if the driver is a suicide bomber or not. The book is told from the points of view of Alex, Ruth, and Dorothy! It is quite enjoyable, and believable, to see the world from a dog's eyes.
The book has humor and warmth and a great sense of place. And I'll tell you a little secret. No one dies. The book has a happy ending. Such a treat.
In the acknowledgments, Jill Ciment says
The illuminated manuscript series attributed to my character, Alex, is based on The FBI Files, a Collage Series by Arnold Mesches.
I looked him up, and discovered that the author is married to the artist. You may read more here.