Ames, Greg. Buffalo Lockjaw. Hyperion, 2009. ISBN 978-1401309800 290 pp. $
James Fitzroy has returned to his hometown, on leave from his job writing greeting cards, to spend the holidays with his family. His mother, a former nurse, has rapidly declined in her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and a copy of the Dummies Guide to Assisted Suicide sits in the backseat of James’s rental car like Chekhov’s rifle. An immature young 20-something who has struggled with addiction and bad life choices, James is still recovering from his adolescent competition with his overachieving, smooth sailer of a sister, trying to be a newly unrebellious version of himself.
The city of Buffalo NY is characterized thorough transcribed interviews James has done with a variety of natives. The writing has a lovely balance to it: past and present, birth and death, memory and the lack thereof. The ending has a refreshing twist to it.