Lockjaw speaks volumes about
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
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.