Summary: 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. -- Hyperion
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up BUFFALO LOCKJAW by Greg Ames, but I don't think the book's description does it justice. This debut novel is an extremely powerful book that touched my heart deeply. So many of the issues in this novel, but especially the ones dealing with aging parents, are concerns that many readers will relate to. As I read this novel, I just kept thinking that it is so scary to get old. As depressing as parts of this book are, I still thought it was a wonderful (and enjoyable) read.
One of the main reasons that I enjoyed this book so much is that I just loved James. He is a terrific character even though (or maybe because) he is such a mess. I am so glad that he was the narrator for this story because I really enjoyed getting inside his not-always stable mind. In so many ways, I think dealing with aging parents makes people grow up; and I thought this book was partially about James getting a grip on his life, his drinking, his job, etc. (or at least I hoped he'd be able to get a handle on everything.) I also appreciate how the author showed how difficult it was for James to go back home. Why is it that so many things never seem to change in your hometown, but it's always hard to fit in again?
Another thing that I thought was just terrific about BUFFALO LOCKJAW was how the author compared the decline of James' hometown Buffalo with the mental and physical decline of his mother. It was clear that James desperately wanted to treasure his good memories of both Buffalo and his mother, and the reader finds James reminiscing quite a bit about the "good old days." The author described the city of Buffalo (both past and present) so well that it actually became another character in this novel. And, I liked how Mr. Ames wove snippets of James' interviews with Buffalo citizens into this book. I definitely think it enhanced the novel and really brought the city to life.
I thought Ms. Ames did a wonderful job with his debut novel. He is truly a gifted writer; and at times, I was blown away by his prose and dialogue. This book deals with some very heavy issues such as Alzheimer's, and the author was still able to infuse so much humor into the novel. I can't imagine how difficult it is to successfully write about these serious topics while also managing to make the reader laugh. I think that's one of the reasons that I appreciated this novel so much. I am looking forward to more books by Mr. Ames in the future.
This book would make a most fantastic discussion book. In fact after I finished this book, I desperately wanted to talk about it with someone. There is a fantastic website devoted to this book, and there are also discussion questions available. I'm glad that BUFFALO LOCKJAW is being discussed today on Everyday I Write the Book. Head over there to see what other's are saying about this book.
A big thanks goes out to Gail from Everyday I Write the Book and Hyperion for sending me this book!