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A Book Review — Shotgun Lovesongs

A longtime friend and also reader of this blog was aghast at how many books I’ve read lately that I didn’t like.  So she sent me a book she enjoyed.  Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler.  Here’s the Amazon blurb:

Welcome to Little Wing.

It’s a place like hundreds of others, but for four boyhood friends—all born and raised in this small Wisconsin town—it is home. One of them never left, still working the family farm, but the others felt the need to move on. One trades commodities, another took to the rodeo circuit. One of them hit it big as a rock star. And then there’s Beth, a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives.

When all of them are brought together for a wedding, Little Wing seems even smaller than before. Lifelong bonds remain strong, but 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 friendship and love.

Nickolas Butler’s 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.

It gets raves from all sorts of places and here’s the list of awards it has won:

Winner of the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Fiction

Winner of the Great Lakes, Great Reads Award

Winner of the Prix Page du Libraires/America

Longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

A Finalist for the Prix du Roman Fnac

A Bookpage Best Book of the Year


It’s a good read.  The friends, who’ve known each other pretty much their entire lives go through some tough times.  Marriages, divorces, cheating, love, arguments, near death experiences.  You know, life.  I was definitely intrigued by the story — which is told by alternating between each of the friends.  Typically each chapter picks up with one of the characters with a little bit of a flashback and then moving ahead through the forward arc of the story.  (Note to self:  maybe the idea that I was doing something unique by alternating chapters between three or four different characters was misplaced.  It seems like most of the stories I’m reading are doing that.  Hmmm.)

There was enough drama to keep me reading, the characters were generally sympathetic, and enough there to want to see how it all ended.  Which, well … SPOILER ALERT, stop reading if you don’t want to know it ends …

I warned you.

Stop reading.

You’re still reading.  Here’s how it ends.  Everybody lives happily ever after.  It’s disappointing that with everything that could have gone wrong for these friends during the arc of the story, nothing ultimately did.  That’s not life.  😉



2 responses to “A Book Review — Shotgun Lovesongs

  1. JunkChuck March 15, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    I might go for that–some happy endings. I read an article a while back that pretty much raked the TV show “Modern Family”, one of the few TV comedies I can stomach, for being “too fake” because all the characters are prosperous, the families (nuclear and extended) all get along and are ultimately honest and loving and supportive of each other, and everything is pretty much hunky dory. That may be true, I thought, but in a world where lovers cheat and friends die, where jobs are lost and bills don’t get paid, where children stumble and some of them don’t get up, it’s good to suspend disbelief in a positive way. Besides, there’s a show right before Modern Family that’s called “The Middle”–that family loves each other too, but they’re poor and sinking, the parenting is questionable, and they’re one layoff away of catastrophe: I hate it like I hate those TV commercials that warn me that I’m not saving enough for retirement, trying to scare me into racking up some broker fees at their bank: yes, I know I’ll be selling postcards in a National Park gift shop when I’m 78, but let’s not pop my bubble so damned enthusiastically.

    • kingmidget March 15, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      I hear you and I don’t judge people who want the happy endings in their books and movies. It’s just not typically for me. It’s odd. It’s fiction, which is supposed to be make believe, so yes, the complete happy ending should be possible in fiction. But there are times when that just rubs me a little bit the wrong way.

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