Greg Ames

Books Reviews Greg Ames
Greg Ames

Lockjaw speaks volumes about Alzheimer’s

The cover of Greg Ames’s debut novel depicts a sweating beer, its froth tapering upwards to become a snow-burdened street. This imagery is meant by the publisher, of course, to indicate the story inside the cover … but it also ironically predicts Ames’s layered, somewhat uneven, storytelling.

The narrator, 28-year-old James, returns to Buffalo from New York City to visit his mom, a nurse who supported patients’ rights to euthanasia and who at an early age now suffers from Alzheimer’s. James dissuaded his mother from suicide years earlier, while she was lucid. With his mom’s worsened condition, he now grapples with that past choice as he considers killing her.

The novel’s first chapters pour unimpressively, though the subdued opening effectively lowers any looming risk of melodrama. Despite the unpromising start, by the last abrupt sentence the novel leaves you thirsty, wanting more.

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