Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas ButlerShotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
Published by Macmillan on 2014-03-11
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy from IndieBound

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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  • I’ve been waiting for what you have to say. And it’s true, Butler gives a very good sense of place. And i love the quote you included. I will link this review up to mine. Cheers!

  • Jennifer Smeth

    Great review. This one has been staring at me for awhile now

  • Jenny @ Reading the End

    It’s easy to overlook flaws in a book that reminds you so strongly of home. When I lived in New York and would watch Friday Night Lights, I didn’t mind about the parts that didn’t wow me, because it evoked (a certain part of) the South so well.

  • I’m just really getting into it. While I have no connection to the midwest, I think this feeling of coming home and coming back to your friends and wanting things to always be the same even though they never are is universal. I’m really enjoying it. The audio is great!

  • Ti Reed

    Another blogger was nice enough to offer up a copy to me. I can’t wait to read it. In my head, I know the Midwest but really, I haven’t a clue.

  • Words for Worms

    The midwestern-ness of this book has me intrigued. I love the crap out of the midwest!

  • LOL hilarious quote!

    And I love how Heather said it below…. I think that’s what I love about books like this one (which I haven’t read yet).

  • Good review. I like the idea of multiple narratives, but sometimes, with so many, they can fall flat, like the two female characters seem to do. I also think that sometimes it’s okay to sit back and enjoy a book, even if it’s flawed. Especially if it brings positive experiences to mind as you read.

  • I am not Midwestern – at all (grew up in Boston, now living in Denver) – but I loved this book. I think it’s the idea of the quiet, small town ideal that had me hooked. I’ve never lived anywhere like that, but it sounds gorgeous. Realistically, I’m romanticizing it in my mind. I swear, I leave the city and start getting nervous about a mile out.

  • The cover keeps calling me back to this book again and again. I couldn’t say for sure but I’m willing to bet growing up small town Wisconsin is a lot like growing up small town South… I’m intrigued. :)

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love!

  • Emily@As the Crowe Flies

    Wow, I’m afraid you liked this book WAY more than I did. I was prepared to love it, since I was born in a small town in Wisconsin and I like books that have an emphasis on place, but I was totally disappointed in this one and didn’t treat it too well in my review. Oh, well. It’d be pretty boring if we all loved the same books allthe time.

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