Heroic Measures (Vintage Contemporaries)
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The basis for the major motion picture 5 Flights Up starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman.
New York City is on high alert—a gasoline truck is “stuck” in the Midtown tunnel and the driver has fled. Through panic and gridlock, Alex and Ruth must transport their beloved old dachshund—whose back legs are suddenly paralyzed—to the animal hospital, using a cutting board as a stretcher. But this is also the weekend when Alex and Ruth must sell the apartment in which they have lived for most of their adult lives. Over the course of forty-eight hours, as the mystery of the missing truck driver terrorizes the city and the dachshund’s life hangs in the balance, the bidding war over their apartment becomes a barometer for collective hope and despair. Told in shifting points of view—Alex’s, Ruth’s, and the little dog’s—Heroic Measures is a moving, deft novel about urban anxiety and the love that deepens over years.
Instead of the Bible’s Psalms, he’d copy the FBI’s accusations. Alex sits down at his worktable, a door on two saw-horses. All he needs to complete page fifty-one is a Prussian blue line around the edge, and a final pattern of cardinal red stenciled over the chrome green borders. He searches his worktable for just the right doily to use as the pattern, one with a little geometry, but all he finds are flower designs. Daisies aren’t what this composition needs. He’ll have to cut a stencil himself.
scatter. Everywhere. It will include not only the knifepoint, but also his old fingers gripping the knife’s silver waist. It will take in not only the manuscript page he is finishing, but all six hundred and ninety-nine pages still waiting to be illuminated, and his studio filled with a lifetime of work in the terrified city on the panicked island by the nervous continent. In such a wide worldview, Alex fears his ebbing hope that art might make a difference and Ruth’s crumbling belief that a
down and couldn’t get up again,” Ruth says. “We’re taking her to the hospital. She’s freezing. We have to go, Mr. Rahim.” They start across the icy pavement toward the first available cab. From his post on the sidewalk, Mr. Rahim watches their slow progress as they thread between the snarled bumpers, the old Jew in his black overcoat and red baseball cap, and his old owl-eyed wife in tears, and their sick little dog. Mr. Rahim understands that they love the animal as if it were their own child,
“We can steam a Papua perch.” “Does the sauce have salt?” “It’s equatorial cuisine. I believe everything has salt,” the waiter says. “Without the sauce,” Alex says. “And just a little dressing on the salad.” Ruth orders the sampler plate, not out of curiosity, but because she can’t bear to make another decision today. “Did you get any nibbles on the apartment?” Rudolph asks as soon as the waiter leaves. “We have a bidding war,” Ruth says. “That’s marvelous!” May says. Ruth shakes her
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ciment, Jill, [date] Heroic measures / Jill Ciment. p. cm. eISBN: 978-0-307-37825-5 1. Human-animal relationships—Fiction. 2. Missing persons—Fiction. 3. Television feature stories—Fiction. 4. Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title. PR9199.3.C499H27 2009 813’.54—dc22 2008034624 www.pantheonbooks.com v3.0