Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Wow!  Every once in awhile a book comes along that gives the reader an "AHA" moment.  Shotgun Lovesongs is such a book.  I didn't want this book to end.  I wanted to read, re-read, listen to the audio, and just sink into the glorious prose telling the simple story of four friends who grew up together in a small town, and whose individual stories are told in such clear, stellar prose that I was captured by the end of page 3!

Each of the stories is discrete, but each advances the story of the whole, of the group.  Each life is separate and unique, but every life meshes with all of the others.  In the end, we see an entire range of experiences and relationships.  Friendships turned sour, friendships stretched as friends move away and then return, friendships poisoned by jealousy and rivalries, but through it all, it is the simple, beautiful story of four people whose ties to their life in a small town and to their love of each other overcomes the obstacles and rivalries that are the staples of life and love.  Here's how the publisher describes it:
Henry, Lee, Kip and Ronny grew up together in rural Wisconsin. Friends since childhood, their lives all began the same way, but have since taken different paths. Henry stayed on the family farm 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 back in town for a wedding, each of them hoping to recapture their old closeness but unable to escape how much has changed. Amid the happiness of reunion and celebration, old rivalries resurface and a wife's secret threatens to tear both a marriage and a friendship apart.
Not only did I read this one in print, but I listened to the audio - a spectacular production from MacMillan Audio, read by Ari Fliakos, Maggie Hoffman, Scott Shepherd, Scott Sowers and Gary Wilmes.  Each voice clarified the character, and each story took on an even more defined picture from the audio.  The word pictures are as sharp as one listens as they are when we read the well-written words.  This is definitely going to be on my top of the year list.

Title: Shotgun Lovesongs
Author: Nickolas Butler
Publisher:Thomas Dunne Books (2014), Hardcover, 320 pages
Audio Publisher:  Macmillan Audio, 2014. 10 hours
Subject: small town life, friendship
Setting: rural Wisconsin
Source: review copy from publisher; audio copy from public library


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