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Last March, while sitting in a condo in Crested Butte, a small town in Colorado that I love, I finished reading a manuscript of Nickolas Butler’s fabulous debut novel, SHOTGUN LOVESONGS. The setting was fitting as the book is set in Little Wing, a fictitious tiny town near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a place with a lot of heart that will touch your soul and a cast of well-drawn, memorable characters. So memorable that you will want to find Little Wing to see what they are up to while at the same time thinking about your own version of Little Wing, the place where you feel at home.
While at the start of the book you think that Leland “Lee” is the star --- after all, he is the musician known as Corvus, whose first album Shotgun Lovesongs burned up the charts around the world, making him a star --- each of the characters has equal billing. There’s Henry, who runs his family farm and is married to Beth (the one female character in a starring role) and is the dad of two young kids. Kip, who made his fortune in Chicago, returns to Little Wing to restore the town feed mill, hoping to make it a place to put Little Wing on the map. And then there’s Ronny, a retired rodeo star and recovering alcoholic. Each chapter is narrated by a character; their stories intertwine and give you the enormous backstory that enriches a story of friends like this.
There is a powerful message here about the cost of celebrity and the shallowness of it, reminding us that behind the tabloid stories there are people. In Little Wing, while people have bought multiple copies of Lee’s albums, around town he is just Lee.
A bonus for those who read audiobooks, I enjoyed SHOTGUN LOVESONGS so much that I, who am not an audiobook reader, decided to give the audiobook a whirl during my drive to and from the city these past few weeks. I figured it would be a nice way not only to experience the audio, but also to refresh my memory about the details of the book. It’s a GREAT listen with a multiple cast of narrators who are doing great justice to Butler’s beautiful prose. Hearing his phrasing being spoken reminded me why I loved this book so much. It will work for book clubs who want to explore the themes of family, roots, celebrity and small towns.
- Publication Date: March 11, 2014
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
- ISBN-10: 1250039819
- ISBN-13: 9781250039811