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Buffalo Lockjaw Paperback – March 31, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 Original edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401309801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401309800
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,652,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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 Assisted Suicide for Dummies in his car and a 56-year-old mother with Alzheimer's who he believes wants to die. 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.
(Apr.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

I’m excited about this novel for a few reasons. One, Ames opens with a great quote from Flannery O’Connor’s under-appreciated novel Wise Blood: “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to was never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.” Two, it’s set in Buffalo, New York, which is full of frustrated artists, frustrated young people, and thousands of psychiatric patients who were given one-way bus tickets when they were released from New York City mental hospitals in the early eighties (Buffalo was the last stop). Three, the premise of a son trying to decide whether to help his Alzheimer’s-stricken mother commit suicide is provocative and memorable. – The New Yorker

More About the Author

Greg Ames is the author of Buffalo Lockjaw, a novel that won the 2009 Book of the Year Award from the New Atlantic Booksellers Association (NAIBA). Buffalo Lockjaw was voted #1 in The Believer's Reader Survey for 2010. Greg Ames's work has appeared in the Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney's, The Southern Review, The Sun Magazine, failbetter.com, and Fiction International. He has been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. He splits his time between New York City and Hamilton, New York, where he is an assistant professor at Colgate University.

Customer Reviews

I recommend this book highly and look forward to reading his future work.
Tracy L.
Ames is a master at description and really bringing you into the story as well as the characters that are involved.
Conor D. Smith
You can feel that he's right there on the edge of something and you just want to give him a push.
A. Fish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S. Mccarthy on June 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Buffalo Lockjaw is a brilliantly written story about a son who feels responsible for his mother's current, debilitated state. After talking Ellen out of suicide when she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, James Fitzroy sets out on a journey back to his hometown of Buffalo to, for once in his life, do something of meaning, to save his mother from her suffering and follow through with her own wishes. Buffalo is the perfect backdrop for the story, not only because this is where the author grew up, but because,like the main character's mother, Buffalo is a city that is full of life and beauty, but is, in many ways, suffering. In a very clever way, the author teaches us much about Buffalo through several character sketches sprinkled throughout the first half of the novel, characters from the city of Buffalo that the main character, James, interviewed in his earlier days while conducting an ethnographical study. For some reason (unknown to himself at the time), James is listening to a tape of these interviews when he drives into Buffalo, and through his continued listening of it, the reader begins to learn about the city of Buffalo and comes to understand it as its own rich character in the story.

Throughout the course of the story, James finds that his past seems to collide with his present as he works through his decision to help his mother. We're introduced to his family and see the pain and heartache that surrounds watching a loved one suffer from advanced Alzheimer's as she becomes more debilitated and loses her sense of self. We also see the guilt that consumes James as he watches his mom suffer. He feels responsible for her current state, because, after all, he was the one who talked her out of suicide.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Guy De Federicis on August 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm not convinced The City of Buffalo is unlike any other Great Lakes industrial city. As depicted in Greg Ames debut novel, BUFFALO LOCKJAW, the city is a silent snow blinded killer of motivation buried under an avalanche of lake effect storms immobilizing its citizens to content themselves with drinking in lowly bars, drugging it up at backyard winter barbecues, and holding dear to a post-pubescent childhood far into their 20s. Having lived in and around Buffalo all my life, the depiction is frighteningly accurate. Could my beloved city possibly be unique? Are things really different in Cleveland, Ohio?

Part of the fun of reading Buffalo Lockjaw is the legion of references to the city peppering nearly every page of the novel. I'm surprised and maybe a little embarassed to lay immodest claim to having patronized every drinking establishment mentioned in the book, and there are several, (what, no 'Mohawk Place'?). It's true this is the city you might find local eccentrics walking naked through a blizzard. And I was there, as cited here, during a truly harrowing Buffalo blizzard, when the late mayor Jimmy Griffin told the city to kick back in front of the TV, open up a six-pack, and wait out the storm. The national media's response was, 'only in Buffalo'. I nostalgically recognize cruising through the city-proud commercial Elmwood district late on a winter night, looking through a fogged and icy car window for a bar, a friend, or any action, as snow numbed pedestrians blindly step in front of the car as if attempting a half-hearted suicide. And when The Buffalo Bills lost the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive time, the city cried like Niagara Falls.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By alexandra on June 19, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I met the author at a local coffee hangout, Cafe Aroma, about 8 years ago as a friend of my son, Stosh. Even then I could see that Greg had a great way of telling a story, humor and sadness rolled into one. With the talent of a great comic, the author in Buffalo Lockjaw makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Having a mother with dementia, I knew the story all too well. After reading Ames' book I was able to find a little humor in such a tragic disease. Telling a personal story that is universal, Greg Ames kept it beyond personal, personal,compassionate and emotional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yvon P. Pasquarello on January 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
My mother gave me Buffalo Lockjaw for Christmas this year, and I ripped through it within three days. It's easily the best book I've read in a very long time. Full disclosure, however, I am a late 20s Brooklyner who grew up in Buffalo and high tailed it out after college.

so touching on so many different levels. personally, i loved how it dealt with the "you can't go home again" feelings one can get upon returning to one's hometown. sometimes you feel guilty for leaving and sometimes you feel like a sham for leaving - the author conveyed those feelings to me and in some cases brought them out of denial and made me confront them head on.

his style of writing is refreshing also. i loved the interspersing of testimonials within the chapters of classic buffalo characters....too good!

as you can see i greatly identify with this character, so i'm obviously biased. i can't recommend this book enough however. it's a quick read but can be revisited time and time again. if you grew up in a mid sized or small town and moved to the big city......this is the best book for you to read right now, especially after going through the guilt of leaving after the holidays.

in closing: READ THIS BOOK. haha
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