Published by Macmillan on 2014-03-11
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Little Wing, Wisconsin was nothing more than empty space on a map until singer-songwriter Corvus’ album Shotgun Lovesongs is recorded in a Little Wing chicken coop and shoots the town to stardom. But regardless of the money he makes or the actress he marries, Corvus will always be Leland to Hank, Kip and Ronny, the friends he grew up with, all suddenly converged back in their hometown. At various stages in their lives and careers, the friends discover changes in the bond they once shared and uncover secrets they have tried to keep hidden for years.
Shotgun Lovesongs drips Midwest. I grew up in a suburb of Detroit, closer to Kip’s Chicago highrise than Little Wing, but I still felt a certain closeness to Butler’s characters and their situations. I’ve seen the reunions, the weddings, the far-strung friends that circle back and attempt to fall into place like they never left. Though the characters in his novel inch toward stereotypical, Butler captures the essence of those friendships and emotions in each one.
“Winter in Wisconsin is the ideal time to avoid someone because our garments grow even larger, even thicker, and we go about the frozen world insulated beneath knit caps and mittens, our feet clad in mukluks or boots. How many times after that wedding did I wave to Kip with a mittened hand, when beneath the crocheted wool only my middle finger waved?”
There’s more than one layer to Shotgun Lovesongs. The book’s story is told from several perspectives, and not just those of Leland, Hank, Kip and Ronny. Woven into the narrative is Hank’s wife Beth, who becomes both a catalyst for much of the novel’s conflict and an olive branch for mending it. Compared to their male counterparts, Beth and the other female characters in Shotgun Lovesongs feel slightly two-dimensional, as some of their story lines are touched on but don’t feel fully explored.
Perhaps it’s sentimental or just a longing for home, but I found myself overlooking flaws in Nickolas Butler’s novel that I would have found distracting in other books – easily swept up in the characters and story. Though some readers without a connection to the Midwest may not feel so forgiving, Shotgun Lovesongs is a deeply truthful, personal reading experience that gets to the core of friendship and love.
MacmillanAudio has shared a shared a clip of the audiobook version of Shotgun Lovesongs, which you can check out below!
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