Buffalo Lockjaw: Good Novel With Alzheimer's Insight
Posted May 14 2009 4:31pm
Buffalo Lockjaw, by Greg Ames, is an engrossing novel about a man on a mission. Through undertaking this mission, the protagonist, James Fitzroy, uncovers issues from his past and grows as a human being. It’s a good story, but not one I’d be writing about in this space if the subject of the book wasn’t pertinent to the mission of this blog. To pursue his mission, Fitzroy returns to his home town of Buffalo, New York. He needs to try to figure out what to do about his Alzheimer’s inflicted mother.
Fitzroy’s mother, once a respected nurse who had taught classes and written many professional papers on quality of life issues, had developed early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fitzroy knew that she believe in allowing people to die, if they so choose, once they reached a stage in life where they didn’t find life worth living. At least, he was pretty sure that’s what she believed. Fitzroy spends a good deal of time researching his mother’s work looking for some clue as to what she’d want done if she could, at this time, choose her fate.
Fitzroy’s father pretty much lives in denial – at least that’s what Fitzroy believes. This is a novel, and I don’t want to ruin the story, so I’ll stop at that. The subplot includes past romance, meeting old friends with whom he’d done drugs and had other juvenile adventures as well as Fitzroy’s thoughts about the town in which he grew up.
Through it all though, Ames capably brings to life Fitzroy’s mother and her Alzheimer’s disease. I’d be truly shocked if Ames hasn’t spent a good deal of time visiting nursing homes, likely Alzheimer’s patients. Over and over I was impressed with Ames’ knowledge and the detail with which he describes Fitzroy’s mother’s actions and her condition. In my opinion, only someone who has lived a life touched by Alzheimer’s could have written this book. I was enormously impressed by the depth of understanding Ames has about the disease.
Buffalo Lockjaw is a good novel for anyone to read. It’s thought provoking. It’s controversial. What Fitzroy does for love, some may find repulsive. When the rubber meets the road, Ames does give Fitzroy a convenient “out.” I do believe most people, agree or not with his views, would be riveted by Fitzroy and his mission to find out what his mother would have wanted so he wouldn’t let her down.
Buffalo Lockjaw is available at bookstores and on online.