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Shotgun Lovesongs: A Novel by [Butler, Nickolas]
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4.2 out of 5 stars 499 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: When the four men at the core of Shotgun Lovesongs came of age together in Little Wing, Wisconsin, the highest point of the tiny farm town was the abandoned mill. Now in their thirties, Ronny’s trying to start a life after rodeo and booze, Kip has come back to pour stock-market millions into reviving the mill, Hank’s followed his father into farming, and Lee’s indie-rock career--built on his legendary DIY recording in a Little Wing chicken coop--has shot him into another social stratosphere. Nickolas Butler’s debut novel was inspired in part by the life of his high school friend Justin Vernon, who took the 2012 Grammy for Best New Artist as Bon Iver, and despite its occasional flirtation with stereotypes, his characters and their friendships have authentic souls. Through fights, reconciliations, and celebrations, Butler’s polyphonic story swells to a full-throated anthem about the expansive possibility born of belonging to a deep-rooted community, a kind of America we want to believe might welcome us all home. --Mari Malcolm

From Booklist

The hearty Midwest, which thrums and beats through tiny Little Wing, Wisconsin—an Anytown, USA, if there ever was one—assumes the whole soul of Butler’s fetching debut, if only to end up proving how unassuming it is. Chapters are voiced alternately by five longtime friends: there are Henry and Beth, married and tethered to their farm and kids; gold-hearted Ronny, babied by the others after a spell of rough living as a rodeo king; Kip, who’s restoring Little Wing’s decrepit old mill after pulling down millions in Chicago; and Lee, the newly successful musician whose haunting first album lends the novel its name. In bars and under stars, through this small group of those who’ve never left, those who regret leaving, and those who wish they had the town in their rearview mirror, Butler examines just what it means to be from a place—and if sharing that from-some-place is more a reason to stay in touch, or a reason not to. Readers can feel the winter cold on the other side of the neon sign and hear the peanut shells crunching underfoot. --Annie Bostrom

Product Details

  • File Size: 1376 KB
  • Print Length: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Reissue edition (March 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F1RE1H0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,854 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Set in rural Wisconsin, Shotgun Lovesongs tells the story of four men, and one woman, renegotiating the meaning of friendship, love and home.

Five characters share the narrative in alternating chapters. Hank – who inherited his father’s farm, Beth – Hank’s wife, Lee – an international music artist, Kip – a successful broker and Ronny -an injured rodeo star. These people speak and we think that we know them, who they are and what they dream of, but each are capable of surprising us as the story unfolds.

I have read few books that feature male friendship, and it was something that I really enjoyed about Shotgun Lovesongs. The bonds this group formed in childhood remain intact through a decade of physical separation and sporadic contact, but when they reunite in Little Wing they learn none of them are the boys they once were and their relationships with each other are now complicated by the men they have become.

The community of Little Wing in rural Wisconsin is vividly portrayed. I could easily imagine Kip’s mill looming over the town, the car park full of battered pick-ups, weathered men leaning on the bar in the VWF hall and tractors traversing the the open farmland.

While tempers may flare, the conflict in Shotgun Lovesongs is largely personal and the drama is subdued. The pace of the story is measured and thoughtful, emphasising emotion over action. I found the writing and dialogue to be simple and honest yet descriptive and affecting.

Shotgun Lovesongs is an understated yet heartfelt novel, an ode to friendship, to love and to family. It is a story about finding your way home, where ever that may be.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a deceptively simple story of five friends in small town Wisconsin. Their stories are not big stories, nor are they particularly novel. Yet this book transmutes into that comfortable source of warmth that elusively beckons for us all. It is in the ordinary that transforms that the spirit emerges. The friends represent the span from a neurologically impaired rodeo star to a struggling farmer to his wife who has a secret link with the town boy made good. Lee is that folk fable of the local boy made super star, yet in his Wisconsin interactions, he becomes real. The setting includes the wilderness held wild, the failed strivings of men, and the daily settings that our characters take for granted. The prose depends on insight and presence instead of drama and hyperbole. This is a little book that makes a large impact.
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Format: Hardcover
This is essentially the story of four male friends, Henry (Hank), Lee, Kip and Ronny who all grew up in small town Wisconsin. They have made their own ways in life with differing degrees of success; depending on how one actually quantifies `success'. Lee has become a famous musician whose debut album gives us the title of this book. Ronnie became a rodeo star with a drink problem, Kip went off to the big city to make money trading stocks and Hank stayed at home and married his child hood sweetheart to work the farm and raise a family.

Kip comes back to get married and breathe life into the old mill which dominates the skyline and has stood derelict for many years. What starts out well soon unravels as the paparazzi turn up to see Lee in his hometown. That then acts as a catalyst for change for all the erstwhile friends; and as loyalties are tested and pasts are revisited so do the skeletons come tumbling out of the closet.

The story is told in episodic fashion with each chapter being told by a different character. In this way more of the real people are revealed each time and the misunderstandings that spawn friction are given an airing with a differing perspective to add reason to what is often questionable behaviour.

Nickolas Butler has woven a tale that gently unfolds but it still has enough immediacy to keep you turning the pages. The music seems to be in the prose too - it actually reminded me of Okkervil Rivers latest album (`The Silver Gymnasium') where Will Sheff has gone back to his hometown to revisit childhood memories. There is a lot of nostalgia here and `what `if' scenarios but all of the characters are allowed the space to grow and breathe and it is hard not to empathise with most of them. I really enjoyed this book and am not surprised that Fox Searchlight have bought the film rights, it is crying out to be made into a film and if it is half as good as the book it will still be a pleasure to see.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought Shotgun Loves Songs was so very Wisconsin-y that it couldn't be more authentic. Being a Wisconsinite myself, I found the characters to be likable in ways that my neighbors are. Farmers I know, working the fields dawn til dusk or sharing a cold beer with a friend in a small town bar where everyone literally knows your name is what Butler portrays to a tee. I've seen it, I've done it. But what I found most enjoyable about the book was his description of the places that are mirrored after land I grew up around. Butler is so poetic in describing the landscape that Lee loves so much and I loved that aspect of the book because I feel that same way.
" Here I can hear things, the world throbs differently, silence thrums like a chord strummed eons ago, music is the aspen trees and in the firs and burr oaks and even in the fields of drying corn" (pg 48) is where I spend my weekends up north. This is exactly what I feel when I stand on a frozen lake at night at our cabin in Northwoods Wisconsin. Nick hit it right on chord and there is nothing more Wisconsin than the sound of silent serenity in nature.
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