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Buffalo Lockjaw

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Buffalo Lockjaw Cover

ISBN13: 9781401309800
ISBN10: 1401309801
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Buffalo Lockjaw, like its charming, bitter screw-up of a narrator, reaches finally for larger meaning, and succeeds. . . . A brazen and tender book about a city and a scene, a mother and a son, and the beauty and pain of several kinds of love."

--Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

"Ames knows how to build up the world with a light hand while still getting to the complicated and painful ways we muddle through. Funny, fresh, and generous."

--Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

"In Buffalo Lockjaw, love of one's parents and love of one's hometown mix powerfully with the mad undertow of loss that seems as inevitable in life as gravity."

--Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir!

"Greg Ames, one of the funniest writers I've ever read, faces dead-on the most terrifying event in a person's life. Buffalo Lockjaw is frightening, heart-rending, and beautiful. . . . I didn't want it to end."

--Poe Ballantine, author of Things I Like About America

"Greg Ames manages to evoke place and expose the complexities of character in a single swift phrase. It is a funny-sad, heartbreaking, hypnotically readable debut."

--Adrienne Miller, author of The Coast of Akron James Fitzroy isn't doing so well. Though his old friends in Buffalo believe his life in New York City is a success, in fact he writes ridiculous taglines for a greeting card company. Now he's coming home on Thanksgiving to visit his aging father and dying mother, and unlike other holidays, he's not sure how this one is going to end. Buffalo Lockjaw introduces a fresh new voice in American fiction.

Review:

"Dreary, winter-bound Buffalo, N.Y., is as much a character as any of the slackers populating Ames's darkly humorous debut about a young man with a copy of Suicide for Dummies in his car and a 56-year-old mother with Alzheimer's who he believes wants to die. James, 28, fled hometown stasis in the mid-'90s for Manhattan, where he writes greeting card verse for Kwality Kards. Back home at Thanksgiving to visit his mother in a nursing home, he reconnects awkwardly with old friends who hail his supposed big-city success. His family isn't as awestruck. Father Rodney, a solid citizen rooted in country club bonhomie, laments his son's lack of discipline, and his lesbian sister, Kate, a physical therapist visiting with her girlfriend from Oregon, mocks her brother's career path. Both evade his oblique references to euthanasia — the real reason for his return. Ames's depiction of James's bedside concern for his mother straddles the line between caustically comic and wrenchingly emotional, while the wry riffs on family tension and the sad state of Buffalo that appear throughout this fine first novel don't undercut the serious consideration of murder or mercy for terminal patients." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

James Fitzroy isn't doing so well. Though his old friends in Buffalo believe his life in New York City is a success, in fact he writes ridiculous taglines for a greeting card company. Now he's coming home on Thanksgiving to visit his aging father and dying mother, and unlike other holidays, he's not sure how this one is going to end. Buffalo Lockjaw introduces a fresh new voice in American fiction.

About the Author

Greg Ames' stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, Open City, McSweeney's, and other publications. He also received honorable mention in the 2003 Pushcart Prize Awards. He grew up in Buffalo, NY, and now lives in Brooklyn, and teaches Creative Writing at Brooklyn College.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Wendy Robards, April 8, 2009 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
Greg Ames has written a searing, all to real novel about watching someone you love slip into dementia. When James Fitzroy returns to his hometown of Buffalo at Thanksgiving, he finds himself tormented by his mother’s mental and physical decline from Alzheimer’s Disease. He wonders why his mother - a nurse who everyone loved and a woman whose nursing text is still being used to educate new nurses - should have to suffer this indignity, while James wastes his life drinking too much, having meaningless sex and working in a dead end job as a writer of taglines for greeting cards. He also worries about his father who is aging and alone now.

It is this misdirected sense of responsibility that compels James to consider ending his mother’s life. He agonizes over how he would do it, or if such an act is even justified.

'I sit beside her trying to imagine what she thinks and feels. If it’s true that she experiences no physical pain, and that mentally she is no more cognizant of her condition than a baby is - the baby doesn’t recognize the helplessness of her life because she has nothing to compare it to - then this is my problem and not hers. But if she is suffering with the knowledge of loss, if she recognizes the absence of dignity, which I suspect is the case, then her shame and despair must consume her. And she has nothing but time, the regulated ticking of minutes on a clock, to remind her of that.' - from Buffalo Lockjaw, page 117 -

James Fitzroy is not a wholly likable character - he can be crude and he drinks too much, he seems to have no aspirations to raise his life to a higher level - and yet, I found myself empathizing with him and appreciating his deep love and loyalty to his mother. In one scene, he carefully flosses his mother’s teeth, believing she would be ashamed by her poor dental hygiene. James shows compassion even toward other residents at the care home - holding their hands, or speaking to them with empathy. One gets the feeling that here is a young man completely misunderstood for most of his life, and trying now to rectify this.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are clips of other characters talking about Buffalo and the people who live there - at first I wasn’t sure what to make of these interuptions in the novel. But the reader ultimately understands that James was an “urban ethnologist” and these snippets of narrative come from his interview tapes. They lend a surreal touch to the book and offer a glimpse at the personal stories of others living in James’ hometown, but aside from this they seemed a distraction from the real purpose of the novel.

Ames writes with black humor and irony as he explores the controversial subject of assisted suicide for the terminally ill. He does not offer an answer as to whether euthansia is morally right or wrong, but instead opens up a fertile ground for discussion. Buffalo Lockjaw would make a great book club read for this reason. Thematically the novel is about aging, loss, love and the parent/child relationship through time.

Buffalo Lockjaw is a laudable debut and one which captivated me from the beginning because of its authenticity. I not only work with patients suffering dementia in my profession of Physical Therapy, but my father also suffers from progressive dementia because of small vessel disease. Greg Ames has skillfully captured the immense sadness and utter hopelessness of watching a loved one be robbed of their intellect, personality, and dignity because of a disease like Alzheimers.

Recommended with a caution - Ames writes with direct, sometimes unnerving prose which may disturb some readers.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781401309800
Author:
Ames, Greg
Publisher:
Hyperion
Subject:
General
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Family
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
TradePB
Publication Date:
20090401
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1875 in 8.88 oz
Age Level:
12-UP

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Buffalo Lockjaw Used Trade Paper
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$7.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Hyperion Books - English 9781401309800 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Dreary, winter-bound Buffalo, N.Y., is as much a character as any of the slackers populating Ames's darkly humorous debut about a young man with a copy of Suicide for Dummies in his car and a 56-year-old mother with Alzheimer's who he believes wants to die. James, 28, fled hometown stasis in the mid-'90s for Manhattan, where he writes greeting card verse for Kwality Kards. Back home at Thanksgiving to visit his mother in a nursing home, he reconnects awkwardly with old friends who hail his supposed big-city success. His family isn't as awestruck. Father Rodney, a solid citizen rooted in country club bonhomie, laments his son's lack of discipline, and his lesbian sister, Kate, a physical therapist visiting with her girlfriend from Oregon, mocks her brother's career path. Both evade his oblique references to euthanasia — the real reason for his return. Ames's depiction of James's bedside concern for his mother straddles the line between caustically comic and wrenchingly emotional, while the wry riffs on family tension and the sad state of Buffalo that appear throughout this fine first novel don't undercut the serious consideration of murder or mercy for terminal patients." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , James Fitzroy isn't doing so well. Though his old friends in Buffalo believe his life in New York City is a success, in fact he writes ridiculous taglines for a greeting card company. Now he's coming home on Thanksgiving to visit his aging father and dying mother, and unlike other holidays, he's not sure how this one is going to end. Buffalo Lockjaw introduces a fresh new voice in American fiction.
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