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Shotgun Lovesongs

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  6,769 ratings  ·  1,296 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 11th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published September 23rd 2013)
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Karin Litwin I was thinking about how Lee's and Henry's lives could have switched. Lee fantasized about marrying Beth and maybe living Henry's life. Maybe Henry…moreI was thinking about how Lee's and Henry's lives could have switched. Lee fantasized about marrying Beth and maybe living Henry's life. Maybe Henry could have led Lee's life and been a famous artist also - a painter?(less)
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This is apparently a novel about the musician who is known as Bon Iver.

I've heard a few songs by Bon Iver before, but I know very little about him (yeah I know he has a real name, and maybe Bon Iver is the name of the whole project). I'm not a fan. I'm probably not the intended audience for this book.

If I were a fan, or even mildly interested in Bon Iver I'd probably find the book interesting despite it's flaws.

Where to start this review?

The novel takes place in a small Wisconsin town, the ho
As a reader, I'm drawn to books written in Butler's style: plain-spoken language, characters who aren't overly complicated (yet still complex enough to be believable), and a setting so true it becomes an integral element to the plot. In the hands of a writer like Butler, an author who's clearly put the time and effort into making the story one with great flow, these elements have aligned in such a way to elevate "Shotgun Lovesongs" to the five-stars, favorites shelf—-at least, for me anyway.

On m
Shotgun Lovesongs
By Nickolas Butler

An Eau Claire author (where I’m from) has hit the BIG time. We’re talking huge here people. Author Nickolas Butler was fought over by high-brow publishing houses and walked away with an amazing contract. Movie rights are sold as well. Why? Because his debut novel hits home—hits you where you live. Breaks your heart. You want to read it now, don’t you? You will.

The premise is simple and timeless and very Big Chill-like, (ask your mom) what is refreshing is tha
Secrets in small towns spread like tumbleweed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That is to say a secret lasts about as long as a change in wind direction, or a flying ball sailing across a major highway in the middle of rush hour traffic. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS brings up many of the negative points about small town life, and therefore it won’t be at the top of my Christmas list anytime this century. The third person multiple perspective nature of this tale peppered with the occasional flashback left me wit ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Mish rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
The book is set in a country town of Wisconsin called Little Wing. It’s a story of 5 close friends who were born and raised in this small country town who’s friendship is slowly drifting in different direction as they reach their mid 30’s. Trying to keep the close bond intact, as well as getting through obstacle that life throws at you, has proven to be challenging.

Prior to reading this book, I had found out that the lead singer of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, was the inspiration for one of the main
"It's a [book] like hundreds of others, nothing special, really."

I got halfway through this audiobook, thinking about abandoning it several times along the way, but feeling like I should finish it since I won it in a GR first reads giveaway. Then it occurred to me that I'm going to die someday and that I should move on to a good book. I'm giving my review based on what I've noticed of the first half of the audiobook.

So, this is the story of a bunch of guys in their 30s who grew up together in r
Ugh. There was potential here but the author didn't follow through. This read like a first draft.

Chapters alternate first-person narration between five different characters, but all the characters sound the same. Butler would have been better off going with third-person narration.

The author really wanted to set up Wisconsin as a character in itself, and he sometimes succeeded, but so many times he just referenced Carhartts, or John Deere, or Leinenkugels, like, "Hey, you know they're really leg
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Set in rural Wisconsin, Shotgun Lovesongs tells the story of four men, and one woman, renegotiating the meaning of friendship, love and home.

Five characters share the narrative in alternating chapters. Hank - who inherited his father's farm, Beth - Hank's wife, Lee - an international music artist, Kip - a successful broker and Ronny -an injured rodeo star. These people speak and we think that we know them, who they are and what they dream of, but each are capable of surprising us as the story un
Sometimes you begin reading a book and it immediately feels comfortable, like slipping into an old sweater on a cool day. That’s what I felt reading Nickolas Butler. Even though I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and not small-town Wisconsin, I knew the Midwestern feel of this novel down to my bones. I knew the speech patterns, the sense of both belongingness and isolation. I knew these people.

"These men, these men who have known one another their entire lives. These men who were all born in the s
I am a sucker for novels set in small towns. In this story, we drop in on Little Wing, Wisconsin. Loved the image of the old men sitting in front of the mill passing the time of day and smelling of cheap cologne and halitosis. The old VFW hall constructed of old painted cinder blocks was right on, as was the ancient mahogany bar inside and the requisite oversized jar of pickled eggs. Really liked the comparison of the barren perfection of Kip & Felicia's house to Henry & Beth's home, a p ...more

"Quando non ho nessun posto dove andare, torno qui. Quando non ho niente, torno qui. Torno qui e dal niente tiro fuori qualcosa. Posso vivere ai limiti della sussistenza; non c'è niente da comprare, nessuno da impressionare. Da queste parti tutto ciò che importa alla gente è la tua etica sul lavoro e la tua gentilezza e la tua competenza. Torno qui e ritrovo la mia voce come qualcosa che mi è scivolato dalle tasche, come un souvenir sepolto a lungo. E ogni volta che ritorno sono circondato da
An ode to friendship in a small, Midwestern town.

Being from a small town, I can attest to what it feels like to have the same friends your whole life. I graduated high school with the same kids I started Kindergarten, most of my friends married high school sweethearts, and a fair number of them still live in my hometown. There is an ebb and flow to the friendships, times when you see a person every day and then suddenly you realize it's been a year since you saw them. But, going home still feels
JoAnne Pulcino

Nicholas Baker

This is a debut novel so I will definitely be watching for more great reads from this author.

This is excellent novel about four men and their women who have been friends since childhood. Mr. Baker captures the quiet beauty and sense of time and place in the small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin. Each character has a voice and each is rich and complicated in their diverse ways. Each of the four friends takes very different paths. Hank remains in Little Wing working
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

ARC received from NetGalley. Thank you NetGalley!!!!!

The story of four childhood friends (and one wife), their marriages and divorces, successes and failures, as they attempt to navigate their way through their early 30s.

Until the day I started reading Shotgun Lovesongs, I had no idea the story was inspired by the author’s friendship with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame. In all honesty, the book got bumped ahead of some others on the TB
I won an advanced copy from Goodreads First Reads, even though I had no recollection of signing up for it. I secretly believe that they looked at my Goodreads profile and handpicked me personally to read this because of my love of small-town & farm stories. And Shotgun Lovesongs is no exception, even though the title just makes me cringe.

Little Wing, WI, and its inhabitants won my heart, and made me reminisce about growing up in a little Midwestern town, only Little Wing has better scenery.
Maya Panika
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. I
Susan Johnson
I am a sucker for small town stories as I grew up in one. This book has the authentic small town feeling with the predictable small town people. There are always those who stay, those who go away, those who "make" it and those who don't. That's the way it is. I guess what makes this different is that the character, Lee, is based on a real life friendship the author has with Bon Iver. I don't know the group so that made little difference to me.

This little town is in Wisconsin and is told from th
I love debut authors because I want to hear the new voices and find the rock stars before they even play their first real gig. Which is why I am so excited about this book--Nickolas Butler is going to be one of those rock stars. This book is about a group of friends, ten or so years after they graduated from high school. There is literally a rock star in the bunch, as well as a famous rodeo guy who got hit by one too many bulls (and bottles), a married couple with small children and a big farm t ...more
I received this ARC through the Goodreads first-reads giveaway program. Bravo, to this author's debut. What a wonderful work of story telling. You feel very engaged in the lives of the five main characters just doing life together. It reads very similar to William Gay's Provinces of Night which to me is a very high compliment. It wasn't similar in plot but very similar to the structure of the novel. A story of lives and how they interact together and separately from each other. It's a book I did ...more
Questo libro è stato amore a prima vista e non poteva essere altrimenti con un titolo così accattivante.

Cinque amici, un'infanzia comune, un paesino del Wisconsin. Una storia di amicizia raccontata senza cliché, analizzata in quegli elementi che non sono estranei a nessun rapporto umano: le incomprensioni, i segreti, le gelosie e le ipocrisie.

Per certi versi questo libro mi ha ricordato Eureka Street, dove era Belfast a fare da teatro all'amicizia dei due protagonisti. Così come il romanzo di
Sara Nelson
Loved this deceptively simple novel and was surprised by it, since "homespun" is not often something I treasure. But this plainspoken story about four guys and the town they grew up in and the secrets they keep has stayed with me. I grew up in a smallish place, too and while it was completely different from Little Wing, Wisconsin, the alliances and secrets formed there travel with me.
Canciones de amor a quemarropa, Nickolas Butler, en Libros del Asteroide, es una novela sobre la necesidad de pertenecer a algo (una carrera musical, una granja o desastroso proyecto empresarial), a alguien (amigos, pareja, hijos) y a un lugar, tener un hogar. Es una primera novela que no es redonda, pero es un libro con una personalidad especial, triste pero cálida y con honestidad, hasta donde es posible tenerla hablando de sentimientos y del corazón. Ya sabéis que me pierden las novelas con c ...more
Laine Bergeson
I haven't read prose this artless in a long time! (I can't help the exclamation point: that first sentence has to be recited in a faux chipper voice that seems to promise a rave review but reveals the exact opposite. It just feels right, perhaps because a lot of people really DID rave review this book.) I found this effort so sophomoric that I kept flipping to the author photo on the back flap to make sure that the writer wasn't, well, a high school sophomore.

The book broke down on every level:
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


I didn't love EVERYTHING about this book, but I loved almost everything - and blast you, goodreads for not letting me give this 4.5 stars.

Before cracking the cover on this book, I perused a few reviews on GoodReads to see if it was indeed worth my time. (The blurb said small-town Wisconsin, so I was fairly committed even then.) I have to say there are a few reviews I disagree with -- not bec

There is an ebb and flow to life. This book follows the lives of four friends in small town Wisconsin – they succeed, they fail, they sometimes drink too much, they love, they fight, they leave, they come home, they know who their friends are even when they don’t like each other very much in the moment. Mirroring most lives, this book is not action packed or full of major plot twists. It is an endearing and touching, or as we say in the South – sweet.

One note, each chapter is told by a diffe
Oh, how I loved this very wonderfully written debut novel by Nickolas Butler. It is the story of the friendship between four friends from a small Wisconsin town who have known each other since childhood. The characters are so endearing and engaging! Butler's descriptions of small town America are absolutely perfect. I loved this book in some of the same ways that I love Kent Haruf's novels. And as with Haruf's books, I laughed outloud and cried in several places of Shotgun Lovesongs...two signs ...more
I haven't read a book that lovely in a long time. Butler's prose is simply beautiful. Reminiscent of Kent Haruf, even. The book is told from the viewpoint of each of the 5 main characters and it works beautifully. I came to love each one of them, as well as the land - because the way it was described, revered, remembered, etc made it a character in & of itself. And like any really good book, it left me wanting to know more - but also completely satisfied with the ending. Thank you for the bo ...more
Filippo Bossolino
Cinque amici e una piccola città del Wisconsin, Little Wing. C'è chi vi rimane per sempre, consapevole e contento; c'è chi non vede l'ora di allontanarsi, c'è chi ci vuole far ritorno per ritrovare se stesso o qualche momento di pace, c'è chi è costretto a tornarci perché soltanto lì può resistere. Poi ci sono i matrimoni che danno modo ai cinque di riunirsi, di confrontarsi, di litigare, di deludere, e di ricongiungersi.

Una storia gradevolissima, figlia verosimile dei giorni nostri, che al di

Si mormora, nemmeno troppo sommessamente, che la figura di Lee, uno dei protagonisti, sia ispirata a quella di Bon Iver, amico e compagno del liceo dell'autore. ( )
Le atmosfere malinconiche, le sensazioni di solitudine lancinante, i silenzi attutiti dalla neve, l'esplosione improvvisa di colori, i sorrisi che aprono il cuore e le risate che riecheggiano come colpi di fucile, sono le stesse, come le stesse sembrano essere la storia di «Shotgun Lovesongs», l'album
4.5 stars

There's no doubt about it, Nickolas Butler can write.
And his writing will make you feel all the feels.

The characters in Shotgun Lovesongs remark that Lee's music evolves over time. So, too, does the reader's understanding of the small group of lifelong friends in Little Wing, Wisconsin - their history, actions, motivations, and life choices. Butler skillfully accomplishes this with crystal clear prose and a series of five alternating first-person narratives.

Not only is this novel evocat
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Nickolas Butler is the author of the novel "Shotgun Lovesongs" and a forthcoming collection of short stories entitled, "Beneath the Bonfire".

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has appeared in: Ploughshares, The Christian Science Monitor, The Kenyon Review
More about Nickolas Butler...
Beneath the Bonfire: Stories In Western Counties

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“In all my travels, only in the Midwest would someone spend their money in a place they hate simply because they feel bad for the proprietors. Also I suppose, because they know your name.” 9 likes
“America, I think, is about poor people playing music and poor people sharing food and poor people dancing, even when everything else in their life is so desperate, and so dismal that it doesn't seem there should be any room for any music, any extra food, or any extra energy for dancing. And people can say that I'm wrong, that we're a puritanical people, an evangelical people, a selfish people, but I don't believe that. I don't want to believe that.” 7 likes
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