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Shotgun Lovesongs Hardcover – 13 Mar 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (13 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447238168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447238164
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Shotgun Lovesongs is as true as an honest day’s work, as serious as a busted heart, as welcoming as a warm home fire burning… Nickolas Butler has written a Midwestern masterpiece and has done for the modest splendor of verdant farmlands what Larry McMurtry did for the brutal beauty of small town Texas.’ Amber Dermont, author of The Starboard Sea

‘Listen to the unforgettable characters and their chorus of voices – as they sing about longing, about betrayal, about friendship and marriage, about the green explosion of summer and the white music of winter, about the gravity of home – and you will be moved to laughter and tears, plugged in to a melody that brilliantly shares the story of all our lives.’ Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding

‘Nickolas Butler ripped my heart out with rare honesty and good old-fashioned unapologetic love. A book that makes you want to call old friends. A writer who makes you feel more human than you thought possible.’ Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook

‘An unswervingly big-hearted and compelling novel about an indie-rocker made good and his best friends back home in Wisconsin, all of them navigating their way through different iterations of the America Dream, trying to make authentic lives and find meaningful love... Nickolas Butler conducts a soaring, meditative chorus of voices in his first novel. And it’s absolutely beautiful.’ Dean Bakopoulos, author of My American Unhappiness

‘In this deeply-felt debut, Nickolas Butler paints a place and its people with such love that you’ll find yourself falling for them, too. This is a novel about home, and home is how the book feels. With all the pull and power of the word, it brings us face to face with the most important things: how hard it is to love well, to stay loyal, to act right, to know what that means.’ Josh Weil, author of The New Valley

‘A beautifully written, heartfelt novel about young men in the Midwest grappling with the slipperiest bits of life. Butler has the gift of making the everyday seem new – from the odd way fame silently separates old friends, to the disheartening foibles of a new marriage. This is a talented, thoughtful writer who throws his characters against the singular Wisconsin backdrop and coaxes them to live and breathe.’ Katie Crouch, author of Girls in Trucks

What a cracking book. Full of heart, full of compassion, full of characters who have you rooting for them from the very first page. Butler's sense of place is so strong that, reading Shotgun Lovesongs, I became a temporary resident of small-town Wisconsin - and once I'd finished it, I wanted to go right back there. (Shelley Harris, author of JUBILEE)

A wonderful book, filled with moments of gut-wrenching anguish and also of soaring hope. It is a beautiful tale of small towns and growing up and of trying to find a place in the world when home doesn't feel like home any more. A new American classic. (Matt Haig, author of THE HUMANS)

Nickolas Butler has written a novel to fall in love with: a paean to the American Midwest that explores the shifting relationships between old friends and the bonds between people and places. One of a group of boyhood friends has made it good as a famous rock star; others haven't. From that simple premise an addictive, deeply enjoyable literary page-turner is born. (Jonathan Lee, author of JOY)

Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs explores the complex relationship between four old friends in a poetic novel that pays tribute to the power of music and nature. (Hot Books of 2014 Daily Express)

I fell in love with the title of this book, and fell even deeper in love with it from page one. It is quiet, achingly sweet and melancholy . . . A top contender for my book of 2014 (Absolutely West)

A big-hearted take on a small-town life from a new voice in American fiction . . . Gorgeous, unforgettable novel. (Marie Claire)

Impressive American debut (Best Books of 2014 Huffington Post)

Book Description

Henry, Lee, Kip and Ronny grew up together in rural Wisconsin, but their lives have since taken different paths. Henry stayed home and married his first love, whilst the others left in search of something more. Ronnie became a rodeo star, Kip made his fortune in the city, and musician Lee found fame – but heartbreak, too. Now all four are reunited for a wedding, but amid happiness and celebration, old rivalries resurface and a wife’s secret threatens to tear both a marriage and a friendship apart . . . This is a novel about the things that matter – love and loyalty, the power of music and the beauty of nature – told in a uniquely beautiful, warm-hearted and profound way. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 15 Feb 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is essentially the story of four male friends, Henry (Hank), Lee, Kip and Ronny who all grew up in small town Wisconsin. They have made their own ways in life with differing degrees of success; depending on how one actually quantifies `success'. Lee has become a famous musician whose debut album gives us the title of this book. Ronnie became a rodeo star with a drink problem, Kip went off to the big city to make money trading stocks and Hank stayed at home and married his child hood sweetheart to work the farm and raise a family.

Kip comes back to get married and breathe life into the old mill which dominates the skyline and has stood derelict for many years. What starts out well soon unravels as the paparazzi turn up to see Lee in his hometown. That then acts as a catalyst for change for all the erstwhile friends; and as loyalties are tested and pasts are revisited so do the skeletons come tumbling out of the closet.

The story is told in episodic fashion with each chapter being told by a different character. In this way more of the real people are revealed each time and the misunderstandings that spawn friction are given an airing with a differing perspective to add reason to what is often questionable behaviour.

Nickolas Butler has woven a tale that gently unfolds but it still has enough immediacy to keep you turning the pages. The music seems to be in the prose too - it actually reminded me of Okkervil Rivers latest album (`The Silver Gymnasium') where Will Sheff has gone back to his hometown to revisit childhood memories. There is a lot of nostalgia here and `what `if' scenarios but all of the characters are allowed the space to grow and breathe and it is hard not to empathise with most of them. I really enjoyed this book and am not surprised that Fox Searchlight have bought the film rights, it is crying out to be made into a film and if it is half as good as the book it will still be a pleasure to see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura T VINE VOICE on 3 Jun 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Henry, Lee, Kip and Ronnie have grown up together in the tiny rural community of Little Wing, in Wisconsin. Later, their paths diverged; only Henry has remained true to his roots, farming the land like his father did and marrying his lifelong friend Beth. Both Kip and Lee remind Henry of how small and insignificant his life might seem to outsiders; Lee is a famous musician, and Kip a wealthy businessman who leads the high life, making martinis in women's high heels and generally misbehaving. Their different reactions to Ronnie, now a brain-damaged alcoholic, when back in town for a wedding, show Henry what these men are really worth. But Henry's loyalties are soon to be shaken in an even more fundamental way...

Shotgun Lovesongs sways between being easy, pleasant and totally forgettable to saying something much more interesting. Told in the alternating voices of the four friends and Beth, it was Lee's story that I found the most gripping. His vivid account of his early days as a musician, living on a hundred dollars a month and working in a freezing outhouse warmed only by coffee and an open fire to force himself to finally do some songwriting rings true. So does what happens during that time to inspire his first album, Shotgun Lovesongs. Similarly, Beth's narrative is interesting because it is the flipside of Lee's; as she admits, she is 'untalented', but her evident kindness, intelligence and empathy makes her stand out as much as Lee does as she helps a succession of wives and girlfriends negotiate both the men's tight friendship group and the unfamiliar landscape of Little Wing, whether that is by sharing lipstick or buying 'buttery nipple' shots and bemusing the local barmaid.

It is Henry's voice that was the weakest aspect of this book, for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Critic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The story of 5 friends from a small town in Wisconsin: Henry the farmer, who stayed home and married Beth, his childhood sweetheart; Ronnie the Rodeo star, alcoholic, brain injured, in need of tlc; Kip the businessman, who left to make his millions in Chicago, and came home to indulge a dream of making it on his home turf; Lee, the rich, famous musician who left to tour the world and retired home hurt, on the back of a failed marriage.
Written in these five voices, this sort of crept up on me. It's a slow burn and nothing much outside the ordinary happens, but the writing is lovely, lyrical; I've never been to Wisconsin but I could see and feel and smell it. The characters were less successful. I won't say they were interchangeable, they weren't that, but they were a little cardboard; a set of type-cast avatars, and I had a hard time relating to them, they felt alien to me, with behaviours and attitudes that seemed just plain odd. I couldn't work out why these people were behaving the way they were; maybe I just don't understand American Midwesterners.
For all that, it's an enjoyable tale: a long meander through tales of lost loves, of friendships made and broken, but it doesn't really go anywhere and ends quite suddenly; after such a slow telling of a tale, the end came so precipitously it left me disoriented. It needed a slower come-down. I've given it 4 stars because I did enjoy the ride, but my rating is more like three and a half stars: it doesn't really feel finished.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. G. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Feb 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Shotgun Love Songs is the story of five young adults who grew up together in a small town in the north of the midwest. In turn each of them, farmer Henry, wife Beth, broker Kip, injured rodeo rider Ronny and musician Lee tell aspects of the story of their lives, loves and aspirations. It is a story of four weddings and a near funeral as each approaches marriage in a different way and with differing levels of success, while in the background a buried secret threatens to blow it all apart.

I got the feeling that the seed of the book must have been the author thinking that Shotgun Love Songs would make a great name for an album and such a record, made by Lee is indeed at the heart of the book. It is a very successful heart, as Butler pulls off the trick of giving the feel of a fictional work of art without going in to too much detail. The closest analogy I can think of is the way Iain M Banks describes the game in the Player of Games without ever fully explaining the rules. Whatever, I finished the book wanting to be able to download my copy of Shotgun Love Songs.

This is a book which is painted on the huge canvas of the American prairies, but in fact works on a very small scale. The various crises faced by the cast are all small everyday ones about relationships, children, the desire to escape from a small town, the need to return to one's roots. There are no great earth shattering revelations, no great scenes of violence, no real sense of darkness or evil, just ordinary people facing ordinary challenges. If that sounds like an underselling, it shouldn't do. The fact that this is a straightforward story about believable characters is absolutely a strength.
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