If you’re looking for a book filled with tension, excitement and high drama, Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler is not the book for you. But, if you are interested in inhabiting Butler’s Wisconsin world, bonding with his characters and not wanting his story to end, you should definitely consider reading this unforgettable debut novel.
Butler, an author with admirable writing chops, has the uncanny ability to make the most mundane, everyday situations sing through his thoughtful and redolent prose. Come along as he introduces the friends who grew up in Little Wing, Wisconsin as their hometown changes from their beloved childhood city to a downtrodden, semi-abandoned location so familiar to many who live in small town America.
Meet Henry, the farmer who stayed and married his high school sweetheart and continues to try to make more than a subsistence living off the land, the way his forebearers did. Then there’s Ronnie who escaped Little Wing to ride the national rodeo circuit only to return a broken man. Kip moves back from his high paying investment job in Chicago, ready to receive the town’s admiration when he buys and renovates the old mill, but so far has failed to attract the adulation he so desperately craves. Lee becomes a world-wide music star yet always feels the pull of his hometown as it draws him back and away from the fame and fortune he had left to find. And of course, there is Henry’s sweet wife, Beth whose deep loyalty and love for her husband and children may never make up for a previous betrayal.
There’s enough love, admiration, jealousy and pain to go around in this beautifully written, evocatively described novel. Butler’s increasing fan base will be clamoring for his next tale after they read and devour this first impressive attempt.