Thursday, August 6, 2009

...And on the Flip Side of Last week's BTT:

Recent Serious August 6, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:51 am

What’s the most serious book you’ve read recently?
(I figure it’s easier than asking your most serious boook ever, because, well, it’s recent!)

This is also a pretty easy question for me. I knew what the answer would be before I even finished reading the post. The most serious book would be Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames.

Seeing as how I wrote about it less than a month ago, I won't go into too much detail today. It's well-written and has good characters, but is almost relentless in its sadness and despair. It tackles about all of the serious themes life has to offer: illness, assisted suicide, death, alcoholism, finding one's place in the world and in one's own family. It's set in Buffalo in Thanksgiving, which can be a depressing place in and of itself. It's usually snowed at least once by then, and almost always cold. Plus, if you're returning to Buffalo for Thanksgiving, you might feel depressed about the decline, depending on how long it's been and where you spend your time. (I might add that if you come in the summer and head down to the waterfront, you'll feel optimistic about the new development around the Erie Canal ruins and about the sheer number of people that have suddenly come out of the woodwork to just hang out down there. Next step should be the elimination of the 190 in favor of something less ugly, in my opinion.)

So, Buffalo Lockjaw is a very serious book, but it does have its moments. I absolutely loved his Buffalo ethnography, where he collected memories and impressions of the city. In my earlier post, I mentioned the Bills fan with his lucky underwear and hot-dog rituals. There was also a conversation between two older men about what happened to the city and what they feel would solve it. I can attest to the fact that you can hear similar conversations by entering any public place in the region, any day. There were stories about various local legends, many of whom are denizens of the state psychiatric hospital just off the city's most vibrant and exciting neighborhood. These touches lighten it up, but it's still a serious work.