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Shotgun Lovesongs (Butler)

Shotgun Lovesongs 
Nickolas Butler, 2014
St. Martin's Press
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250039811



Summary
Welcome to Little Wing.

It’s a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friendsall born and raised in this small Wisconsin townit is home. And now they are men, coming into their own, or struggling to do so.

One of them never left, still working the family farm that has been tilled for generations. But others felt the need to move on, with varying degrees of success. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit, and one of them even hit it big as a rock star. And then there’s Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

Now all four are brought together for a wedding. Little Wing seems even smaller than before. While lifelong bonds are still strong, there are stresses—between the friends, between husbands and wives. There will be heartbreak, but there will also be hope, healing, even heroism as these memorable people learn the true meaning of adult friendship and love.

Seldom has the American heartland been so richly and accurately portrayed. Though the town may have changed, the one thing that hasn’t is the beauty of the Wisconsin farmland, the lure of which, in Nickolas Butler’s hands, emerges as a vibrant character in the story. Shotgun Lovesongs is that rare work of fiction that evokes a specific time and place yet movingly describes the universal human condition. It is, in short, a truly remarkable book—a novel that once read will never be forgotten. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—N/A
Raised—Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
Education—University of Wisconsin; Iowa
   Writers' Workshop
Currently—lives in Wisconsin


Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  His writings have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, The Progressive, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

He has worked as a meatpacker, a Burger King maintenance man, a liquor store clerk, a coffee roaster, an office manager, an author escort, an inn-keeper (twice), and several other odd vocations.

He presently lives on 16 acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married with two children.(From .)



Book Reviews
The most lyrical parts of this big-hearted book are about how all the characters…are almost physically drawn to the town and one another…Mr. Butler makes his characters sufficiently different to create all sorts of memorable interactions when their paths cross…[in] this impressively original debut.
Janet Maslin - New York Times


The author romanticizes the landscape and the notion of community—as if such ideals were limited to small town, agrarian dreams. More seriously, his characters are too similar—all of them too lyrical and too insightful. Butler’s prose is often beautiful, and the narrative churns along well, but the book just isn’t convincing enough to get the reader to buy all the way in.
Publishers Weekly


Overall, though, this is a warm and absorbing depiction of male friendship.... [T]he sole female narrator, is as nuanced and believable a character as her male counterparts.  —Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Library Journal


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.... 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. —Annie Bostrom
Booklist


(Starred review.) A debut novel that delves so deeply into the small-town heartland that readers will accept its flaws as part of its charm. "Write what you know" is the first dictum directed toward aspiring fiction writers, and there's no doubt that Butler knows his fictional Little Wing inside out.... Despite some soap-opera machinations and occasional literary overreach, the novel will strike a responsive chord.
Kirkus Reviews



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