Sharing a childhood in small-town Wisconsin before going their separate ways with careers and families, Hank, Leland, Kip, and Ronny are reunited during a visit marked by culture clashes and a woman who inspires passion in each of them. - (Baker & Taylor)
Sharing a childhood in small-town Wisconsin before going their separate ways with careers and families, Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny are reunited during a visit marked by culture clashes, respective pursuits of meaning and a woman who inspires passion in each of them. A first novel. 150,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town--Little Wing--and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family's land that's been tilled for generations.Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them--both then and now--fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of lovesongs and rivalries. Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed. There is conflict here between longtime buddies, between husbands and wives--told with writing that is, frankly, gut-wrenching, and even heartbreaking. But there is also hope, healing, and at times, even heroism. It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too--not just fallible and compromising. Shotgun Lovesongs is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again--and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
"Impressively original." —The New York Times
"Sparkles in every way. A love letter to the open lonely American heartland…A must-read." —People
"The kind of book that restores your faith in humanity." —Toronto Star
Welcome to Little Wing.
It's a place like hundreds of others, nothing special, really. But for four friends—all born and raised in this small Wisconsin town—it 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—among 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.
- (McMillan Palgrave
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. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
The publisher's biggest winter title, this debut features four friends raised in Little Wing, WI, three of whom had left to become a rock star, a commodities star, and a rodeo star. Now they come together again as new husbands and fathers to try to figure things out. "This book does for Wisconsin what Larry McMurtry did for Texas in The Last Picture Show," proclaims the publicist, so listen up.
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Library Journal Reviews
Leland (Lee) Sutton left his tiny Wisconsin town when he became a famous rocker but returns when the pressures of fame and an unsuccessful marriage are too much for him. Butler's debut novel uses multiple narrators and a nonchronological structure to tell the story of Lee and his circle of friends; best friend Henry (Hank), a farmer with a hidden talent for painting; Hank's wife, Beth, who had a brief, secret romance with Lee; outwardly arrogant but inwardly insecure stock trader Kip; and lost soul Ronny, a former rodeo rider and recovering alcoholic. VERDICT While not ignoring the economic hardships of contemporary rural life, Butler stacks the deck a bit in favor of small-town values vs. big city shallowness. Overall, though, this is a warm and absorbing depiction of male friendship. Lee and Hank's compassion toward Ronny is particularly touching, and Beth, the sole female narrator, is as nuanced and believable a character as her male counterparts. With the author's connection to indie musician Bon Iver and a movie deal already in the works, expect interest and demand. [See Prepub Alert, 9/9/13.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
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