From the author of The Tattoo Artist ("Beautifully written"--Alice Sebold; "Boldly conceived"--The New York Times Book Review), 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 dictionary, must get their beloved dachshund, whose back legs have suddenly become paralyzed, to the animal hospital sixty blocks north. But the streets of Manhattan are welded with traffic. Their dog, Dorothy, twelve-years-old and gray-faced, is the emotional center of Alex and Ruth's forty-five-year-long childless marriage. Using a cutting board as a stretcher, they ferry the dog uptown.
This is also the weekend that Alex and Ruth must sell their apartment. While house hunters traipse
through it during their open house, husband and wife wait by the phone to hear from the animal hospital. During the course of forty-eight hours, as the missing truck driver terrorizes the city, the price of their apartment becomes a barometer for collective hope and despair, as the real estate market spikes and troughs with every breaking news story.
In shifting points of view--Alex's, Ruth's, and the little dog's--man, woman, and one small tenacious
beast try to make sense of the cacophony of rumors, opinions, and innuendos coming from news
anchors, cable TV pundits, pollsters, bomb experts, hostages, witnesses, real estate agents, house hunters, bargain seekers, howling dogs, veterinarians, nurses, and cab drivers.
A moving, deftly told novel of ultrahigh-urban anxiety.
Ciment's spare and surprisingly gripping novel details one long weekend in the life of Ruth and Alex Cohen, an elderly New York couple hoping to sell their East Village apartment of 45 years. Ruth is a retired teacher and Chekhov devotee, and Alex is an artist, currently adding colorful illuminations to the couples' old FBI files. As they ready for an open house, a gas tanker truck gets stuck in the Midtown tunnel, seizing the city with gridlock and fear of a terrorist attack. (In scenes that border on parody, the local news adopts a "Danger in the Tunnel" graphic and runs viewer polls about whether "terrorists take drugs.") Meanwhile, the Cohens' beloved dachshund, Dorothy, falls ill and has to be taken to an uptown animal hospital. As the real estate market swings in response to the news about the tanker, the Cohens wait for news about their dog and confront the reality of leaving their home. Ciment plays the veterinary, real estate and domestic details like elements of a thriller plot, while the couple's love of their dog provides heartrending texture-literature with commercial crossover. (June)
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June 28, 2009
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