Pantheon, Jun 30 2009, $23.00
For forty-five years retired teacher Ruth and artist Alex Cohen have lived in their East Village co-op, but now the elderly couple finds the five flights unbearable and their cherished Dorothy the Dachshund can no longer move her back feet making it that much more difficult for them. Thus they plan to sell the apartment hoping for a million dollars and find a more convenient abode somewhere closer to the ocean perhaps as far south as the Carolinas.
As they wait to host an open house, Alex has been adding illustrations to “ancient history FBI files of Ruth. However, the police begin an evacuation when a driver Abdul Pamir loses control of a gas tanker blocking the Midtown tunnel. Residents begin panicking that another 9/11 is happening and the media adds to the fears with the "Danger in the Tunnel" reporting that imply terrorists since the driver is named Abdul. While all this is going down (should say “up”-town) Dorothy becomes ill and needs to see a veterinarian and their realtor says terrorists like Abdul who became frightened of mobs, police, and reporters assaulting him takes hostages, which makes the Cohen pad worth a lot less.
HEROIC MEASURES is a super look at an edgy America in which the media and the politicians play up the 9/11 card at any time, which leads to more nervousness as if the country has turned into a collective neurotic perhaps even psychotic mess. The story line reads like a Manhattan thriller in which any moment the Midtown Tunnel will explode and Abdul will kill his hostages yet does so with a profound focus on the three subplots of New York real estate, an aging couple struggling with an ailing canine, and the media-politician marriage of convenience to hyperbolize the truth. Jill Ciment has written a great “domestic” thriller.