Review: Buffalo Lockjaw

Buffalo Lockjaw is the first novel for author Greg Ames. I have to thank Gayle at EDIWTB for selecting this book for her book club selection.

This is James’ story but you also feel a connection to his mom and dad. James returns home for the first Thanksgiving since his mothers move to a nursing home. It’s a heartbreaking tale of a family learning to adapt to the impact of Alzheimer’s. As you turn each page, you feel like you live in Buffalo, the side stories help you learn about the family and how James’ is surviving from day to day (or not surviving).

To avoid giving up too much of the story, I will just say this is an important book and it’s easy to connect to the characters. This is not a story of Alzeimer's but a story of a family struggling to communicate and the impact of the illness on the family. It’s good for everyone to understand how illness impacts the family (and the person with the illness). My heart broke for Ellen, James and Rodney.

Author Q&ATell us a little about yourself (biography): I live in Brooklyn and have taught literature and writing at both Brooklyn College and at Binghamton University, but I took this semester off to focus on promoting my book.

Do you write daily? I try to write daily but I don't force myself. I am pretty disciplined but I'm not strict about it. I don't feel guilty if I miss a day or a week. :) Writing is a pleasure for me, and I want it to stay that way.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I don't really know enough about the Kindle to have an opinion. I've never even see one. As a lifelong reader, I think I prefer good old-fashioned books. I want to feel the paper and bend the book and mark it up with pencil and make it mine. The tactile pleasure of holding the book and turning the pages really appeals to me. But who knows? Maybe the Kindle is wonderful.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Be disciplined and stubborn. As far as I can tell, the people who succeed in anything are the ones who refuse to be denied. Just keep doing it. Keep revising. Keep writing new drafts. Refuse to be denied. You will get better. Writing is not like figure skating or gymnastics where you're washed up at the age of twenty. You can write for your whole life. You can make a breakthrough at seventy. And be careful who you listen to. People who have never tried to write before might not understand why you do it. They will tell you to stop. Don't stop.

What are you reading now? Right now I'm reading "Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Two wonderful short story collections: "Spirits" by Richard Bausch and "The Gifts of the Body" by Rebecca Brown.

Type: Fiction, 288 pages, Trade paperback

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 voice in American fiction.

Reviews:The voice of this novel invites you right in, and 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 and fresh and generous. - Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

Buffalo Lockjaw, like its charming, bitter screw-up of a narrator, reaches finally for larger meaning, and succeeds. Greg Ames has written 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
In Buffalo Lockjaw, 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