By Nickolas Butler
Thomas Dunne Books, Macmillan, 2014
Set in Little Wing, WI, Shotgun Lovesongs tells the story of four young men in their 30s who grew up together in a small Midwestern town. The narration rotates between five main characters: Hank, a farmer and father; Kip a lawyer who has just returned to Little Wing from Chicago; Ronny a former rodeo champ and recovering alcoholic; Lee, a rock star with worldwide fame; and Beth, Hanks’ wife. The story explores what happens to them, and their friendships, as they age and some become more successful than others. Butler deftly captures small town life in the Midwest and through the character of Lee explores the consequences of celebrity.
This is an engaging book that gives a unique glimpse into the thoughts and psyches of four men who made very different life choices and yet all continue to live and spend time together. A good part of the action takes place around weddings, and I enjoyed seeing “the wedding” from a male point-of-view. I found the beginning of the book a little slow, but once it got going, I was taken by and rooting for all the characters. And being from the Midwest, I enjoyed reading a book set in Wisconsin.
Butler lives in Wisconsin and is a poet as well as a novelist.