Buffalo Lockjaw review

buffalo-lockjawThe third and final of my pre-Winter Institute reads (since WI4 has already commenced), Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames will be available in April.  In some regard this novel is a fusion of two previously reviewed works, Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman and Stalking Irish Madness by Patrick Tracey.  Ames delivers biting humor and a frost-bitten terrain like Klosterman, while the alcoholism and a family struggling with a mother’s mental illness is compatible to Tracey’s own experience.  Beyond my reading experience, I was also able to relate to the long-suffering fans of the Buffalo Bills.  I was a Bills fan through all four of the consecutive heart-breaking Super Bowl losses and the shocking playoff loss known as the “Music City Miracle.”  Even more heart-breaking and shocking to me was the team’s outright release of Hall of Famers Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, and Thurman Thomas during that off-season.  That was the final indignity I suffered as a Bills fan.  On a personal level my mother has been an registered nurse for going on 30 years, like the narrator’s, but thankfully she is not suffering from a debilitating mental illness.  I echo the narrator’s sentiment of “Give me a good RN over a fireman or a police officer any day.”

The narrator, a recovering addict and copywriter for greeting cards, returns to Buffalo to spend Thanksgiving with his stoic father, his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, his sister and her girlfriend.  As a nurse his mother supported assisted suicide for terminal patients, and now he’s coming home to grant the final wish she is no longer capable of expressing.  All he needs to do is avoid old acquaintances and stay sober long enough to screw up the courage to do something with his life, beginning with ending her’s.  It’s never that simple in Buffalo!


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