In Books: ‘Shotgun Lovesongs’

shotgunlovesongs1One of the more gushed-about fiction debuts of the season has been Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs. Inspired in part by the story of Bon Iver recording an album in a remote Wisconsin cabin, Butler’s story is a nostalgic, idealized paen to small-town life structured around a plot about four buddies growing up and growing apart.

My review is at PopMatters:

There are quiet hymns to the quiet life still published today. You find them scattered here and there amidst the angsty blank urban snarkscape of modern literature, like eager and well-behaved students in a classroom of smartasses and showoffs. These books usually fly below the radar, hidden in plain sight in the ranks of less-reviewed novels that might rack up honorable sales figures, but are barely noticed from a critical perspective. But sometimes this less attitudinal literature makes its presence known. You’re barely a page into Nickolas Butler’s debut novel, the breathlessly anticipated Shotgun Lovesongs, and already the choirs have sucked in their breath for a great big holler…

One thought on “In Books: ‘Shotgun Lovesongs’

  1. Carole Besharah

    What a bang on review, Chris. You eloquently summed up my own feelings about this book in one sentence: “when the song varies so little from one chorus to the next, as gleaming and occasionally heart-tugging as it might be, any variety or texture to the background would come as a relief.” The four male characters are so different from one another, yet they do not have distinct voices. For instance, Ronny has brain damage that impinges his thought process and communication skills, but he is as eloquent as Lee, the introspective songwriter. The characters are therefore flat and unbelievable. The lyrical prose and stunning imagery are heart-stopping at times, but not enough to carry the story. Cheers.

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