Monday, November 3, 2014
Book Review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
Author: Nickolas Butler
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: swearing, sex
Lucy and I were best friends from the time we were five until we went our separate ways in high school, since she went to the other high school in town. Throughout junior high and high school, I spent most of my time with a group of five girls. We were all smart and ambitious in our own ways, and when we graduated in 1993 and went off to college, our relationships basically came to an end (rekindled through Facebook in the last few years). So I don't have a good sense of what it means to come from a place and a a group of friends and to return to that place and those friends as an adult. Nickolas Butler's sweet, nostalgic book, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows the perspective of a group of friends. Henry and Beth have stayed in Little Wing, Wisconsin, where they run the family farm. Ronny was a famous rodeo cowboy until a drunken binge led to an undiagnosed skull fracture and subsequent brain damage. Kip made big money in Chicago and has returned to Little Wing as the BMOC, renovating the mill. And Lee's one of the most famous indie singers of his generation.
The story, told through the perspective of each of these characters, shows how each of them struggles to fit into Little Wing and into their group of friends. When we lived in Minnesota and my parents were in Chicago, I frequently drove through exactly the kinds of tiny towns where Butler sets his story, and it was a lovely experience to read about someone writing about the complications of being from such a place. The book is smart and sweet and lovely, and makes me wish that I had a greater tie to the place and the people I came from.