I was eagerly anticipating the publication of Shotgun Lovesongs, the brand new novel by Nickolas Butler. In fact, I was a little nervous that it couldn’t possibly be as good as I hoped it would be. Boy, was I wrong! “This is a novel about home, and home is how the book feels,” writes reviewer Josh Weil. At its core, Shotgun Lovesongs is a book about the American Dream, and all the many ways that people go about seeking it. The book is also a vivid description of and ode to a place, that place being a small town in northern Wisconsin. Any Midwesterner will connect immediately with Butler’s beautiful narrative of changing seasons and the changing moods that go with them, and anyone who has spent time in a small town will understand perfectly the atmosphere of the place that he describes so well in the pages of the novel.
The story focuses on four men who grew up in the town of Little Wing, Wisconsin. All of them left at some point but all four have returned, unable to truly leave the place that they call home. In the voice of one of the characters, Butler writes: “Here, life unfurls with the seasons. Here, time unspools itself slowly, moments divvied out like some truly decadent dessert that we savor—weddings, births, graduations, grand openings, funerals. Mostly, things stay the same…. This is my home. This is the place that first believed in me. That still believes in me.”
Fans of other Midwestern authors like Jim Harrison, Bonnie Jo Campbell and Jonathan Franzen will love Shotgun Lovesongs. You can read more about the book in the New York Times review of it here.