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Canciones de amor a quemarropa

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Henry, Lee, Kip y Ronny crecieron juntos en el mismo pueblo de Wisconsin, Little Wing.
Amigos desde niños, sus vidas comenzaron de manera similar pero han tomado caminos distintos. Henry se quedó en el pueblo y se casó con su primera novia, mientras que el resto se marchó en busca de algo más: Ronny se convirtió en un vaquero de rodeo, Kip en exitoso agente de bolsa y Lee en una estrella de rock de fama mundial.
Cuando se vuelven a reunir en una boda, todos tratan de recuperar su vieja amistad pese a lo mucho que han cambiado. Entre la alegría del encuentro las antiguas rivalidades renacen y los viejos secretos amenazan con destrozar amistades y amores.

344 pages, Paperback

First published March 11, 2014

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About the author

Nickolas Butler

18 books921 followers
Nickolas Butler is the author of the novel "Shotgun Lovesongs" and a collection of short stories entitled, "Beneath the Bonfire".

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has appeared in: Ploughshares, The Christian Science Monitor, The Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Progressive, and many other publications.

Along the way he has worked as: a meatpacker, a Burger King maintenance man, a liquor store clerk, a coffee roaster, an office manager, an author escort, an inn-keeper (twice), and several other odd vocations.

He presently lives on 16 acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married with two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,579 reviews
Profile Image for JanB .
1,144 reviews2,513 followers
May 29, 2018
My mini review:

2.5 stars, rounded up

This is the male version of chick lit..."dude lit"? The book follows a group of childhood friends from their high school years through adulthood in a small town in America's heartland.

It was well-written from a technical standpoint but I found myself bored, wanting to hurry the story along, and considering abandoning it. Not much happens and I grew weary of the purple prose, in particular, Leland's flowery and heartsick musings. It didn't ring true to me and my eyes got a work out from all the eye-rolling.

The lead singer of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, was the inspiration for one of the main characters, but it's not a group I'm familiar with so maybe that affected my impressions. In the end, this just wasn't the book for me.
Profile Image for Gail.
1,041 reviews344 followers
December 20, 2017
As a reader, I'm drawn to books written in Butler's style: plain-spoken language, characters who aren't overly complicated (yet still complex enough to be believable), and a setting so true it becomes an integral element to the plot. In the hands of a writer like Butler, an author who's clearly put the time and effort into making the story one with great flow, these elements have aligned in such a way to elevate "Shotgun Lovesongs" to the five-stars, favorites shelf—-at least, for me anyway.

On my end, I suppose Butler gets extra bonus points because he is a Midwesterner too (someone who also takes PRIDE in that fact, I might add), and because, a few years into my 30s myself, I felt a kinship with these characters in a way I probably wouldn't have at 23 or even 25. And I'll admit, it probably *also* stoked my love a bit (at the very least, it first piqued my interest) this whole Justin Vernon-Bon Iver angle of the book (that now everyone can't stop talking about). But for ALL these reasons and more, I'm confident "Shotgun" will wind up my favorite read of 2014. A book that, as a writer, I expect to keep thinking about for much of the rest of the year too. (For the sake of record keeping, in 2013 that title for me went to Meg Wolitzer's "The Interestings"; 2012 I didn't exactly have one ... "Fault in Our Stars" perhaps? and 2011 was Chad Harbach's "Art of Fielding").

There's plenty that's been written already about the plot of this book—five 30-somethings in a small town in Wisconsin, all trying to find their way in life while figuring out the challenges that accompany it: loyalties, friendships, relationships, finances, a sense of belonging. The most notable of the group is Lee, who's struck it big as an indie musician (here's where that Justin Vernon comparison comes in, Butler being from the same town as the Bon Iver frontman), but the characters who ground the entire book (and the ones whose chapters I eagerly awaited most) were Henry and Beth, the married couple of the book, good 'ol salt-of-the-earth people tied to their family farm, struggling to stay afloat, but content in so many ways (I saw in them traits of many of the people I grew up with in my small hometown in Indiana).

You know a book is good when you don't want to quit its characters, when they stay with you even off the page, and it seems like, once or twice a year, I experience that with a title. I certainly did with "Shotgun." And while occasionally I found Butler to want to overwrite a scene, the instances were seldom enough (and stopped just short of trying too hard) for it to really bother me. Especially when there were so many other wonderful lines to treasure. Here are a few still on my mind a few weeks after reading:

• "Maybe it's a good thing, from time to time, to spy on other people's lives. For me, anyway, it has the effect of making my own life feel like a well-loved thing."
• [I loved this scene of Henry and Beth in a taxi, as throw-away as it may seem...chiefly because I'm always a little in awe of an author who captures a moment in words something I've experienced before that no one else has ever attempted to put down on the page] "He looked down at me, his chin compressing itself, the type of angle you only see on the face of a person you love—his nose hairs, the crow's feet about his eyes, his hairline, gently receding. I pulled his face down to me, and we kissed.
• "It's a funny thing, being married to someone for so long, being someone's best friend for so long. Because on those few occasions when they surprise you, it feels like the biggest thing in the world, like a crack in the sky, like the moon, suddenly rising over the horizon twenty times bigger than the last time you looked." (such a BEAUTIFUL line and so poignantly true)
• America, I think ,is about poor people playing music and poor people sharing food and poor people dancing, even when everything else in their lives is desperate, and so dismal that it doesn't seem that there should be any room for any music, any extra food, or any extra energy for dancing."

Related: With the book being so new, after finishing, I hopped online to read a few reviews and was lucky enough to catch Butler in a live Q&A. When I asked about the status of the book being turned into a film (Fox Searchlight is working on the script), I brought up actors for characters and suggested that Ryan Gosling would make one hell of an awesome Lee. He agreed, but mentioned that the Hollywood types thought Justin Timberlake. I knew I already liked the guy, but when he wrote, "This made me cringe a little ... in my soul", I laughed out loud. YES. God, PLEASE don't let JT ("The Serious Actor") get his hands on that role. Where do I start the campaign for The Gos? ;) (as for the others, I'm still playing casting director in my mind!)
Profile Image for Jennifer.
350 reviews392 followers
February 20, 2019
My first 5 star novel of 2019.

This book was exquisite. Well-rounded, highly developed characters. Exploring the depths of friendships, home, family, forgiveness, and our "place" in the world, this novel was a stand-out. I think it would be appreciated by those who have enjoyed Anna Quindlen and Elizabeth Strout's work.
Profile Image for Jay.
Author 3 books49 followers
April 24, 2014
Shotgun Lovesongs
By Nickolas Butler

An Eau Claire author (where I’m from) has hit the BIG time. We’re talking huge here people. Author Nickolas Butler was fought over by high-brow publishing houses and walked away with an amazing contract. Movie rights are sold as well. Why? Because his debut novel hits home—hits you where you live. Breaks your heart. You want to read it now, don’t you? You will.

The premise is simple and timeless and very Big Chill-like, (ask your mom) what is refreshing is that it takes place here. Somewhere very close to here and I really liked that. The small town appeal was refreshing. The all so familiar empty store-fronts, farmers fighting to stay ahead, VFW’s, and a lot of churches. I sat up straight when I read this novel and took pride in the knowledge that this is where I am. This is everyone’s story. Yours. Mine.

The writing is often times more like poetry. It flows like our hills and valleys. It will pull you in and make you see things in a different light, an amber one. Author Butler is an observer of life and love and heartbreak and joy and sorrow and holding hands and holding on. He gets us.

“Here, I can hear things, the world throbs differently, silence thrums like a chord strummed eons ago, music in the aspen trees and in the firs and burr oaks and even in the fields of dying corn.”

The story is about four male friends that come home to ‘Little Wing,’ a small Wisconsin town of around 1,000 somewhere near Eau Claire, for a wedding. One is famous, one damaged from too many rodeo falls, one is a farmer and one is just plain rich. Buddies since childhood with all the history of growing up. Yet a storm is about to blast their friendship wide open and change them all. A secret that should have stayed just that, lands in Little Wing like the bomb it was. This turning point is where the idyllic Little Wing becomes something else altogether. Beside the four friends this story is built around, there’s a fifth, a wife of one and a lover of another. Beth.

“And then, one day, you just fall off the planet and drift away, into outer space, and everything you thought was true, all the laws that bound your life before, all the rules and norms that kept things in place, that kept you in place, they’re gone. And nothing makes sense anymore. Gravity is gone. Love is gone.”

Love. That’s what’s underneath this story, underneath everything that matters, when you think about it. It’s what endures after everything else. That’s what this story will remind you of. Though the ending seemed rushed, as though a deadline was tapping a foot in some New York publishing house, it got you there. You were returned to the beginning again. Life is like that, a big circle, a long ride home…

Profile Image for Greg.
1,109 reviews1,844 followers
December 16, 2013
This is apparently a novel about the musician who is known as Bon Iver.

I've heard a few songs by Bon Iver before, but I know very little about him (yeah I know he has a real name, and maybe Bon Iver is the name of the whole project). I'm not a fan. I'm probably not the intended audience for this book.

If I were a fan, or even mildly interested in Bon Iver I'd probably find the book interesting despite it's flaws.

Where to start this review?

The novel takes place in a small Wisconsin town, the hometown of the musician at the center of the story. It's the town he grew up in and returned to in a low point of his life, after some bands he had been trying to get going had failed and then in the winter isolation recorded an album in seclusion. An album that would make him a star.

The novel takes place after he's a star and is told from the viewpoint of him, his best friend, his best friend's wife, his brain damaged ex-rodeo friend and his ex-commodity trader friend. Five different viewpoints tell the story of living in this small town, each character in their thirties and living their adult lives that have left some in the small town. Taken others away. But in one way of another brought them back to the town.

Problem one. The voices of these five different narrators aren't all that different from one another. they all actually kind of sound alike.

Problem two. The story is fairly predictable. The characters while possibly based on real people they feel like stock characters. The farmer best friend is the good guy, the all around good guy. The brain-damaged friend is the man with the heart of gold. The musician is the overly sincere artist, who maybe does a few things that flirts with the excess of celebrity culture but is really just a country boy who only feels at home and honest in his hometown, maybe splitting some wood or just aimlessly driving his John Deere around, while wearing his Red Wings and Carhartts, and waving to his buddy in the Wranglers while his other buddy uses his Craftsmans to repair his own John Deere.

Did you see what I just did? that is problem three to me. Authenticity in this novel feels bought with product placements. Sort of the same way us city hipsters buy our own authenticity by donning our brand name clothes to set us apart and drinking some PBR at some dive bar. And speaking of city folk, the first person observations made when some of the characters travel to New York City seem a little too 'sophisticated' for a person not attuned to the ways of the city.

Except that the book is about an indie-rock god, it doesn't feel all that different from a lot of other books out there. I think it would have been a stronger novel if there hadn't been so many first person perspectives telling the story. As I mentioned above the voices all sounded too similar, and it kind of gave the feeling that the author was a little too timid to leave the first person behind, which is understandable, it is much easier to write in this style than in the third person, but you (well I) want to see authors being daring. No one goes to the circus to see a high-wire act done with the tightrope walker wearing a safety harness.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,766 followers
September 22, 2015
Back in the day, I was a huge fan of the TV show thirtysomething. Back when I was still in my teens and thirty-something seemed impossibly distant and terribly romantic. Babies and briefcases. I loved all the navel-gazing angst, the soap-operatic lives, Hope Steadman's hair. I wanted to be Hope: a writer, a mother, wife to a hunky, kind of dorky husband. Amazingly, now that I'm fortysomething, I got most of what I wished for, except the babies. And I definitely don't have that hair.

I derived the same sink-into-a-comfy-chair-and-be-entertained pleasure from Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs as I did from that iconic, pre-grunge television series. Lots of hunky guys, gorgeous women, everyone leading terribly romantic lives with heavy doses of angst and melodrama, all to a great soundtrack (the character Lee is based on Justin Vernon, the singer/songwriter behind Bon Iver, a favorite band of mine; Butler knows Vernon from their Eau Claire schooldays).

I have to chuckle when I read the professional reviews of Shotgun Lovesongs; it's as if—at least in the critics' eyes—Butler has broken new literary ground by telling a straight-forward story about the emotional journeys of everyday characters, set against the backdrop of domestic life, weaving in the antics of BFFs, and entanglements of the heart. Women authors have been doing this for years, in case they hadn't noticed. There's even a whole category devoted to these stories: Women's Fiction. Although Women's Fiction is largely ignored by professional reviewers and award-givers, readers have known for years that a sentimental story, with empathetic characters and relatable themes, can be deeply satisfying.

Nickolas Butler has a terrific sense of place and his affection for his homeland of Wisconsin is so evident, it had this devoted Pacific Northwesterner recall her years in the Midwest with homesick longing. The characters are warm and cuddly, all wrapped in flannel and Carhartts. This is meat-and-potatoes comfort food reading. The plot's a bit of Lycra stretched too tightly and occasionally Butler falls in love with his own voice, veering to purple, poetic phrasing, but it has the same small-town America charm as a Bob Seger song. You'll be singing "Mainstreet" (if only because you can't actually discern the words to any Bon Iver song).
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,339 reviews699 followers
May 31, 2014
3.5 stars: There aren’t many novels out there that explore male friendships, as there are far more chic-lit books out there. I really enjoyed this novel because I’m a gal who hails from a small town in South Dakota complete with a rodeo grounds, railroad station, farmers, ranchers, and lots of cowboys. Nickolas Butler does a fabulous job in his character development. I swear those men came from my town.

Each chapter is told from one of the main character’s perspective(and identified by the first letter of their name). There are 4 men and one woman who grew up together and are now back together at their hometown in Wisconsin. The characters are in their 30’s and trying to figure out their places in their respective worlds. There’s a lot of romancing the farming and simple life, but that’s what these men/woman are: simple people loving their simple worlds. It’s written without adornment, a very easy read. Authentic characters are the novel’s gift.
Profile Image for Mish.
222 reviews97 followers
September 14, 2015
The book is set in a country town of Wisconsin called Little Wing. It’s a story of 5 close friends who were born and raised in this small country town who’s friendship is slowly drifting in different direction as they reach their mid 30’s. Trying to keep the close bond intact, as well as getting through obstacle that life throws at you, has proven to be challenging.

Prior to reading this book, I had found out that the lead singer of Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, was the inspiration for one of the main characters. I’ve not heard of this band (but have since listened to them), or do I know how much of the facts in this story are true, but I would say that Bon Iver fan would be rushing out to read it once they find out about the connection. However I’m afraid they would be very disappointed (and perhaps cheated) because I felt the author was trying to make something out of nothing.

Unfortunately, this plot was weak and tiresome. It read like a rural chick lit but with male protagonist, dealing with issues concerning their career, love, money, family and lack of freedom. I can see the writer trying to build drama within themes but I don’t think the issues that had arisen were problematic or had any substance - I have more drama in my family then what was shown here. The characters were too good, nice that it was to the point of being unbelievable and ludicrous.

The only good point to this novel is that the rich and crystal clear setting of Wisconsin, which the author described skillfully and with pride, it’s the place the author was raised and knows so well. And that is the only reason why I’ve rated this book 2 stars.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for my review copy

Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
March 22, 2014
Some books do a great job evoking a sense of place and a general mood, which draw you even further into them. Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs is one such book. It's beautifully written—poetic, even—and tremendously compelling, and I read it between two short flights.

Little Wing, Wisconsin is a small rural town. Henry, Lee, Ronny, and Kip were best friends who grew up together. While Henry stayed in Little Wing to take over his father's dairy farm, Ronny found some success on the rodeo circuit before his drinking led to a brain injury following an arrest, Kip moved to Chicago to become a broker for the Mercantile Exchange, and Lee was the successful one, becoming a popular singer.

Ten years later, the friends are reunited for Kip's wedding, as he has returned to Little Wing to breathe life into the town's defunct mill. Lee agrees to sing a song at the wedding, and he finds himself caught between the magic of a new relationship with a successful actress and the desire to return home, where life is simpler. But the wedding also causes the start of some stresses among the friends, as they deal with the problems of their own lives and the envy, frustration, jealousy, and insecurity of small-town life when you've known each other forever.

The book shifts in perspective between the four friends as well as Henry's wife, Beth, who also grew up in Little Wing, and had a special connection with many of the friends. It moves back and forth through time, touching on the victories and defeats, hurts and happy times. While some characters are more engaging than others, Butler has imbued them with such life and complexity that they feel almost larger than life, and you find yourself wishing you had friends like these. While nothing out of the ordinary happens in the plot, it doesn't matter, because you become truly invested in their lives. Shotgun Lovesongs is a paean to life in small-town America, its virtues and its disadvantages. It's a book about trying to live your dreams and worrying about what to do if the dreams don't turn out the way you hoped. It's a book about how far the power of love can take you and how far the power of friendship can carry you. And Butler's use of language is so evocative and mesmerizing, but yet still simple and appropriate for the story. Here's an example:

"Strange, I thought to myself right then, how his life was like my own and yet not at all like it, though we came from the same small place on earth. And why? How had our paths diverged, why were they still even connected? Why was he then in my backyard, on my farm, the sound of almost two hundred cows, faintly in the background, mooing and lowing? How had he come back, this famous man, this person whose name everyone knew, whose voice was recognizable to millions in a way that made it impossible for him to be a stranger in so many places?"

I really loved this book and didn't want it to end. I think it would be a great movie as well, because I would love to see these characters and their stories play out in front of me again. I'd encourage you to take a trip to Little Wing, Wisconsin and spend some time with these people. Their lives might not wow you, but their stories will hook you.
Profile Image for Amy.
935 reviews232 followers
September 21, 2017
I thought this novel was just lovely. Once in a while, a book hits you at just the right moment and in just the right way. This novel was like a sunday morning cup of coffee for me. I just thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story is told from five points of view, four men who have grown up together, and a woman who grew up with them. The story is about their relationships, and features a few successive weddings and the challenges these marriages and friendships face, as their intertwined lives move forward. In the midst of this is a rural town, where each of the characters have had a sense of "home" - and each other. Honestly, I got enraptured up in it and loved every single word.

One of the interesting elements of the author's writing style is that the opening of the book, like the first 40-50 pages is written from one of the four men's point of views, and it has a second/fourth person narration feeling. Reminded me of Buddha in the attic, where the point of view is written as a collective "we." It really laid the feel of this rural town and the mindset of the characters. It doesn't begin to shift to an I until near the end of the chapter, and we learn the narrating character's name only in the last line or two. I came to understand that this was a foreshadowing, as all of of the characters had to figure out how to go from we, to I, to an "evolved we" once again. It was just a beautiful book in many ways, and as I've said, simply hit the spot. Right time, right book. I thoroughly appreciated and loved it!"

My last thought is for my PBT and all my Goodreads friends. I never would have picked up this book if it weren't for the recommendation of this group of readers and friends. I noticed it first from the reviews, and second, as a book that hit the PBT top ten two years in a row. Again, I marvel at how my reading has been so changed and directed. And how many four and five star reads I have read. And what I am excited about moving forward. I am grateful for both your friendship and for the phenomenal stories that have come into my life. Thank you, to both the author, and to you guys, for this beautiful gift which was Shotgun LoveSongs.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,603 reviews2,578 followers
February 11, 2020
(4.5) Four childhood friends from Little Wing, Wisconsin; four weddings but no funeral – though there are a couple of close calls along the way. Which bonds will last, and which will be strained to the breaking point?

Henry is the family man, a dairy farmer who married his college sweetheart, Beth, and has two kids. Lee is a musician, the closest thing to a rock star that Little Wing will ever produce. He became famous for Shotgun Lovesongs, a bestselling album he recorded by himself in a refurbished chicken coop for $600, and now he lives in New York City and hobnobs with celebrities. Kip gave up being a Chicago commodities trader to return to Little Wing and spruce up the old mill into an events venue. Ronny lived for alcohol and rodeos until a drunken accident ended his career and damaged his brain. He’s still Lee’s biggest fan.

The friends have their fair share of petty quarrels and everyday crises, but the big one hits when one guy confesses to another that he’s in love with his wife. Male friendship still feels like a rarer subject for fiction, but you don’t have to fear any macho stylings here. The narration rotates between the four men, but Beth also has a couple of sections, including the longest one in the book.

This is a book full of nostalgia and small-town (especially winter) atmosphere, but also brimming with the sort of emotion that gets a knot started in the top of your throat. All the characters are wondering whether they’ve made the right decisions, whether they’ve gotten stuck in a life smaller than the one they intended or traded home and comfort for fame. There are a lot of bittersweet moments, but also some comic ones. The entire pickled egg sequence, for instance, is a riot even as it edges towards tragedy.

I’d liken this to a cross between Kitchens of the Great Midwest and Daisy Jones and the Six. I’d read two Butler books before, Beneath the Bonfire and Little Faith, but this blows those two out of the water. I have just one of his books remaining, The Hearts of Men, which is on my Kindle. This only narrowly misses out on a full 5 stars from me because I felt like Kip was less than essential.

Favorite lines:

Kip: “The sense that staying in town meant we were failures, meant we were yokels—who the hell knows what we thought back then on those nights. … Feeling like we were apart from everything we’d ever known and maybe better than the place that made us. And yet, at the same time, in love with it all. In love with being small-town kings, standing up on those bankrupt towers, looking out over our futures, looking for something—maybe happiness, maybe love, maybe fame.”

Beth: “It’s a funny thing, being married to someone for so long, being someone’s best friend for so long. Because on those few occasions when they surprise you, it feels like the biggest thing in the world, like a crack in the sky, like the moon, suddenly rising over the horizon twenty times bigger than the last time you looked.”

Lee “I live here, I have chosen to live here [in Little Wing], because life seems real to me here. Authentic, genuine—I don’t know, viable.”
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 10 books420 followers
June 6, 2014
Secrets in small towns spread like tumbleweed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That is to say a secret lasts about as long as a change in wind direction, or a flying ball sailing across a major highway in the middle of rush hour traffic. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS brings up many of the negative points about small town life, and therefore it won’t be at the top of my Christmas list anytime this century. The third person multiple perspective nature of this tale peppered with the occasional flashback left me with a head scratch or two for my trouble, but I was in charge of my fate as I continued onward. Perseverance pushed me toward the finish line, not the writing or the story itself. Each perspective proved mostly unique, but I did feel as though it was all a bit convoluted.

Lee and Kip and Chloe represented a trio of selfish bastards and bastardettes. With more than a secret or two between them, I wanted to offer up a tongue lashing, but it might have fallen on a group more focused on a Droid phone clutched between delicate fingers, or lost in a previous reverie. With my thoughts scattered and my hopes shattered, I had really hoped a few more lives might turn out better, instead of shotgun weddings and battered relationships and subsequent divorces.

The story sounded better in the synopsis, or maybe I had higher hopes, or the bleakness of the tale shattered my optimistic dreams. Whatever the reason, I found myself more put off than satisfied, and that included the mostly unrealistic ending. If this story was supposed to represent life, it wasn’t a life I was particularly interested in living.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,895 reviews218 followers
February 12, 2020
Character-driven contemporary fiction about the adult lives of five childhood friends from a small town in Wisconsin. Beth and Henry are a married couple with two children working a dairy farm to eke out a living. Kip is a broker, recently returned to the area from Chicago to renovate an old mill. Ronny is an ex-rodeo star with an alcohol dependency and an injury that has left him not quite as sharp as he used to be. Lee is a musician who is now famous but returns often to his hometown. The book’s title comes from the name of his first album. The story is in first person in alternating chapters by each of the five primary characters. It is about life, love, change, and personal growth.

It is a quiet book with not a great deal of action, as is typical of character-driven novels. The dramatic tension comes from the jealousies that develop in long-term friendships, mostly over the varying degrees of success in jobs and relationships. The characters are deeply developed, and it is easy to become involved in their lives. The writing is eloquent but not over-wrought. Butler excels at scene-painting. He vividly describes the beauty of rural Wisconsin. For example:

“I wish you could see a sunrise from the top of those grain silos, our own prairie skyscraper. I wish you could see how green everything is in the spring, how yellow the corn’s tassels even a few months later, how blue the morning shadows are, and creeks winding their own slow paths, the land rolling and rolling on and on, studded here and there with proud red barns, white farmhouses, pale gravel roads. The sun emerging in the east so pink and orange, so big. In the ditches and valleys, fog collecting like slow vaporous rivers, waiting to be burned away.”

This book has something to say about home, trust, creativity, loneliness, loyalty, and friendship. It is an ode to American small towns. My only quibble is with the ending, which felt abrupt and did not quite match the rest of the book. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to reading more of Butler’s work.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,950 reviews38 followers
January 8, 2021
This was just an okay read for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to connect with the characters and consider abandoning it half-way through. However, I hung on until the end and did enjoy some of the descriptive writing toward the end.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,457 reviews513 followers
March 8, 2014

Set in rural Wisconsin, Shotgun Lovesongs tells the story of four men, and one woman, renegotiating the meaning of friendship, love and home.

Five characters share the narrative in alternating chapters. Hank - who inherited his father's farm, Beth - Hank's wife, Lee - an international music artist, Kip - a successful broker and Ronny -an injured rodeo star. These people speak and we think that we know them, who they are and what they dream of, but each are capable of surprising us as the story unfolds.

I have read few books that feature male friendship, and it was something that I really enjoyed about Shotgun Lovesongs. The bonds this group formed in childhood remain intact through a decade of physical separation and sporadic contact, but when they reunite in Little Wing they learn none of them are the boys they once were and their relationships with each other are now complicated by the men they have become.

The community of Little Wing in rural Wisconsin is vividly portrayed. I could easily imagine Kip's mill looming over the town, the car park full of battered pick-ups, weathered men leaning on the bar in the VWF hall and tractors traversing the the open farmland.

While tempers may flare, the conflict in Shotgun Lovesongs is largely personal and the drama is subdued. The pace of the story is measured and thoughtful, emphasising emotion over action. I found the writing and dialogue to be simple and honest yet descriptive and affecting.

Shotgun Lovesongs is an understated yet heartfelt novel, an ode to friendship, to love and to family. It is a story about finding your way home, where ever that may be.

* I learned after finishing Shotgun Lovesongs that the novel is loosely based on the life of Bon Iver, a folksy rock singer, whom I had never heard of. A quick browse on Youtube revealed some really beautiful music and lyrics but I'm not a fan of his voice at all, I much prefer the covers by Adele {I Can't Make You Love Me} and Birdy {Skinny Love} for example, but play the clip below to sample his music.

Wash by Bon Iver on YouTube

Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews672 followers
August 6, 2016
I am a sucker for novels set in small towns. In this story, we drop in on Little Wing, Wisconsin. Loved the image of the old men sitting in front of the mill passing the time of day and smelling of cheap cologne and halitosis. The old VFW hall constructed of old painted cinder blocks was right on, as was the ancient mahogany bar inside and the requisite oversized jar of pickled eggs. Really liked the comparison of the barren perfection of Kip & Felicia's house to Henry & Beth's home, a place well lived in and loved. It wasn't hard to imagine the pair of tired old cowboy boots resting just inside the door, or the sound of mourning doves cooing outside in the early morning.

I found this to be an enjoyable story in a low-key slice of life way. You will have to look further if you want a lot of action, but for the love and familiarity of friends and family, you could do much worse. My heart was touched when Henry stated 'I love our home - everything we need is right here.'

This was a first-reads audio giveaway, thank you.
Profile Image for Libby.
581 reviews157 followers
June 1, 2019
With beautiful and at times poetic prose, Nickolas Butler shares the landscape of love won and lost among friends that grew up together. I listened to this as a gorgeous audio, the voices dripping with authenticity. Kip is the boy with numbers in his head who grows into the man who instinctively knows how to go about making money. Ronny is the rodeo hero who was the high school homecoming king; his biggest flaw is not knowing when to quit drinking; his greatest virtue, the loyalty of a true friend. Henry is the boy who turns into a good farmer, a good man and the one who gets the girl. Leland (Lee) is the singer who retreats to make songs, then goes out into the world to become famous, and comes home again. Beth is the girl, the wife, the mother; she embodies all that is feminine, earthy, and worthy of attention and focus.

The heart of the story revolves around Henry and Beth’s relationship and their friendship with Lee. Their lives are rooted in the fictitious town of Little Wing, Wisconsin, a backdrop that’s almost another character. Lee’s music rises up out of his hometown soil, the forests capturing the sun and the cyclical seasons burning into his singer’s soul. There’s something a little wild about Lee. That’s why a coyote shows up in his house one night, symbolizing that wildness.

Lee is full of emotion when he thinks of his hometown. “Here, I can hear things. The world throbs differently. Silence thrums like a chord strummed eons ago. Music in aspen trees and in the firs and burr oaks and even in the fields of drying corn. How do you explain that to someone? How do you explain that to someone you love? What if they don’t understand?”

Henry and Lee are as close as brothers. There’s a bond, a kinship between the two men. When Lee is home, Henry will invite him out to unwind and Lee basks in the family life that Henry and Beth have created with their children. Henry thinks of Lee with warmth and pride. “He was the best among us. He wrote songs about our place on earth, the everywhere fields of corn, the third growth forests, the humpbacked hills and grooved out draws, the knife sharp cold, the too short days, the snow, the snow, the snow.”

Butler creates fascinating characters that I easily engaged with and cared about. Henry is my favorite. His loyalty and allegiances will be tested. With Lee, Butler frequently waxed lyrical, and I enjoyed soaring on his prose. The plot is strong with the subtle suspense of wanting to know what happens next to these characters. In an interview with NPR, Butler explains that the character of Lee was inspired by someone he went to high school with, Justin Vernon, front man for the Indie folk band, Bon Iver. Bon Iver comes from the French phrase, bon hiver, which means ‘good winter.’

Profile Image for Kelley.
144 reviews27 followers
August 9, 2016
"It's a [book] like hundreds of others, nothing special, really."

I got halfway through this audiobook, thinking about abandoning it several times along the way, but feeling like I should finish it since I won it in a GR first reads giveaway. Then it occurred to me that I'm going to die someday and that I should move on to a good book. I'm giving my review based on what I've noticed of the first half of the audiobook.

So, this is the story of a bunch of guys in their 30s who grew up together in rural Wisconsin. One of them grows up to be a struggling farmer, one a struggling businessman, one a failed rodeo star, and one Bon Iver, or a fictionalized version of Bon Iver, who I've learned is not a group, just a guy. There are a couple of women in there, but unfortunately the author can't write women. Struggling Farmer is married to a woman who may have been in love with Bon Iver and may still be. It doesn't really matter. It's the story of a bromance. It's sort of chick-lit-y but with guys in the main roles. (Wasn't there a Rita Wilson movie that had flashbacks with her and her friends when they were teenagers? or the YaYa Sisterhood, only not so old...imagine that, but cast with dudes and set in the midwest instead of the South.) However, I've read many wonderful novels about male friendships (Fortress of Solitude comes to mind), so I think the primary problem is that the characters just have no resonance. We get a lot of information about their backgrounds, but I still never felt they seemed real, or cared what might happen to them.

The narrative is told in chapters from the perspective of each of the five main characters. In the audiobook, each character's chapters are read by a different voice actor. Most of them were okay, neither adding nor detracting to the story, with the exception of the rodeo guy. He's described as having suffered a brain injury, a gentle soul, and hot, with a chiseled body. Unfortunately, they chose to cast a guy with a voice like Artie Lang to read this part. Totally took me out of the story to have what sounded like an angry New Yorker reading/shouting these chapters. The different first-person narrative doesn't really work in this book--mainly because all the characters sound the same, have the same inner voice, the woman character is absurd, and some of the language just doesn't sound authentic coming from these characters as they're described. The attempts at poetic, flowery language is kind of embarrassing. ("The rich, rich manure.") But ultimately, nothing very interesting happens in the plot. There are a couple of tense moments, but not as tense as they could be. This book wasn't terrible. It was mediocre. But like I said, I'm going to die some day. I can't waste time on books that are just okay--there are way too many great ones out there.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,541 followers
March 11, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

ARC received from NetGalley. Thank you NetGalley!!!!!

The story of four childhood friends (and one wife), their marriages and divorces, successes and failures, as they attempt to navigate their way through their early 30s.

Until the day I started reading Shotgun Lovesongs, I had no idea the story was inspired by the author’s friendship with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame. In all honesty, the book got bumped ahead of some others on the TBR once I discovered this fact. I thought perchance it would remove “Skinny Love” from playing on an endless loop in my brain.

Wellllllll, I’m still singing “Skinny Love” – probably even more so now since reading this made Bon Iver become my Pandora flavor of the week. What can I say about this book? What did it make me feel? Sometimes it’s best to let the book speak for itself: “Melancholy is such a dramatic sounding word, but sometimes it’s the right one. When you’re feeling both a little happy and a little sad.”. This book made me feel melancholy the entire time I was reading it.

Nickolas Butler definitely has promise – he put readable words on paper – but something was just a bit off or missing. A couple of things that stood out were how many narrators were speaking in such a short novel and the bouncing back and forth between the present and past sometimes had me reading a few paragraphs or pages before I knew if I was in the “now” or “then”. But for a debut???? Butler did just fine. I will be interested in seeing what he comes up with next.

If you’re a fan of Justin Vernon and want to get a sneaky peak into what he might have been like/might be when he’s not busy being “Bon Iver”, this book will probably make you fall in love with him a little (or a little more).

If you’ve stuck through this review and still have no clue who I’m talking about, go download “Skinny Love” and thank me later when it remains on your iPod shuffle list ; )

Profile Image for Sub_zero.
698 reviews275 followers
October 21, 2014

¿Cómo expresar de manera adecuada el sobrecogedor sentimentalismo que me embarga al recordar ciertos pasajes de esta obra? Sencillamente, no se puede. Dotada de una sensibilidad extrema, un ritmo ágil y un desarrollo tan elocuente como perfectamente equilibrado, Canciones de amor a quemarropa es de esas historias cuya desbordante personalidad capturan tu atención desde el primer momento y que consiguen implicarte a un nivel emocional con todos sus personajes por su demoledora credibilidad. Nickolas Butler describe las relaciones humanas con profunda certeza y revela conocer a cabalidad el irresistible encanto de esas imperfecciones que nos hacen a cada uno especiales. Pero lo mejor de todo es que lo hace siempre con un estilo delicioso, instintivo, sobrio pero certero y no exento de cierta musicalidad que aporta enteros a la narración. ¿Y no es ese, al final, -el recuerdo de una canción hermosa- el poso más duradero que nos está permitido conservar?

Reseña completa: http://generacionreader.blogspot.com....
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,338 followers
November 25, 2013
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I understand that Butler is a first time author. This was a lovely book. In the grand scheme of things, it's a simple story in which not much beyond the ordinary happens. It's a story about how close childhood friendships weather over time -- with all the baggage of the past and the disparate life choices that tug away at the friendships. However, what makes this book lovely is in the telling of the story. The several first person narratives convey very real emotions in a simple and straightforward way. The characters feel real and fully dimensional. And every now and then, the writing has a particular flourish of beauty or brilliance. A bit of a criticism and without giving anything away: the somewhat dramatic incident at the end felt unnecessary and contrived. I thought Butler could have brought his characters to the same place without this type of incident. Not a big deal. I wish Butler success with his book and look forward to reading the next one.
Profile Image for Alena.
868 reviews220 followers
August 3, 2014
Sometimes you begin reading a book and it immediately feels comfortable, like slipping into an old sweater on a cool day. That’s what I felt reading Nickolas Butler. Even though I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and not small-town Wisconsin, I knew the Midwestern feel of this novel down to my bones. I knew the speech patterns, the sense of both belongingness and isolation. I knew these people.

"These men, these men who have known one another their entire lives. These men who were all born in the same hospital, delivered by the same obstetrician. These men who grew up together, who ate the same food, sang in the same choirs, dated the same girls, breathed he same air. They move around one another with their own language, their own set of invisible signals, like wild animals."

Occasionally I still see my childhood friends, groups like these, pictured on Facebook. I marvel at how these packs of boys have maintained that closeness, that tribe mentality, well into adulthood. They still live in the same town, drink in the same bars, run with the same crowd. They leave and they come back. That’s not how my life evolved, but I get it.

"Henry's voice -- the voice of an old friend -- like finding a wall to orient you in some strange, dark hotel room."

So all of that is to say that I had no trouble believing the backdrop of Kip, Henry, Ronny, Lee and Beth in Little Wing, Wisconsin. They are facing their 30s, all reunited in their small town, with varying degrees of professional, relationship and personal success. There are the jealousies, secrets and broken hearts you might expect from such a small-town novel, mostly predictable, but no less interesting just because I could guess where it was going.

The story is told in alternating chapters from each of the main characters’ perspectives, allowing us a glimpse into their inner-thoughts and back stories. The strategy worked to keep me invested in each person, but perhaps sacrificed the momentum of the plot, which does pick up dramatically in the second half.

I can’t say this is a great story or brilliant writing, but I can say I enjoyed reading this book. I like reading about people, groups, places I know.

"Sometimes that is what forgiveness is anyway -- a deep sigh."

The Year We Left Homeby Jean Thompson
Olive Kitteridgeby Elizabeth Strout
Midnight Champagneby A. Manette Mansay
Profile Image for Angelica Juarez Gonzalez.
313 reviews74 followers
December 6, 2017
UNA NOVELA PRECIOSA. Magnifica e inolvidable. ¿Quién ha dicho que lo sencillo, realista, fresco no puede ser perfecto? Porque si me pongo a pensar y analizar: Canciones de amor a quemarropa no tiene una trama complicada ni ostentosa. Todo lo contrario: trata sobre la vida y cotidianidad de sus personajes. Secretos, costumbres y características de una ciudad y sus habitantes. Pero es tan tan especial, que lloro. ¿Y saben por qué? Porque me enseñó y recordó la importancia de la naturaleza, la amistad, la familia, el hogar y el tiempo. Y eso es algo que aprecio muchísimo.

Little Wing, Wisconsin es el lugar seguro de Henry, cuyos atardeceres inspiraron sonidos y canciones a Lee. Es la ciudad que fue testigo de los éxitos y fracasos de Kip y quien Ronny considera debe tener una fuerza gravitatoria que siempre hace volver a sus habitantes.

Ideal para leer mientras viajas, si estas lejos de casa, si estas en casa y estando aun en casa quieres sentirte más en casa. Si extrañas tu hogar, ya no serás el mismo. Es como escuchar, viajar, recordar a traves de una buena canción. Es lo más parecido a Hometown glory.

Voy a extrañar a Kip:

“Cuando de hijos se trata, la espera no puede ser eterna. Ya lo decía mi padre: «El que duda está perdido». Para los hombres, el tiempo no importa. Aunque seas un rey de ochenta años que babea en el trono y a duras penas eres capaz de sostener la corona en la cabeza, siempre podrás tener un hijo con una preciosa joven. Para las mujeres, sin embargo, la cosa cambia. El rollo ese de los relojes es verdad. Párate a pensarlo: una vez al mes, un óvulo desciende igual que un pequeño paracaídas y se posa en un valle lleno de sangre. Pero hay que saber cuándo está ahí, hay que esperar que las condiciones sean idóneas, que el óvulo efectivamente haya llegado; que haya óvulo, en definitiva. Y que el paracaídas se haya abierto en el momento apropiado. Y todo esto a mí me recuerda a un mecanismo de relojería, a la maquinaria de un sistema muy complejo y delicado. Algunas noches, en la cama junto a Felicia, hasta podía oír ese tictac, y eso me acojonaba.”

Y a Lee:

“La palabra «melancolía» puede sonar dramática, pero a veces es la más ajustada. Es cuando te sientes a la vez un poco feliz y un poco triste: es lo que muchas personas experimentan el último día de instituto, imagino; o cuando ven a sus hijos subirse al autobús escolar por primera vez.”
Profile Image for Michael Ferro.
Author 2 books212 followers
October 23, 2017
"With his debut novel, SHOTGUN LOVESONGS, Nickolas Butler has crafted one of the most heartfelt, compassionate portrayals of Midwestern life in recent memory. The narrative jumps chapter-to-chapter from the viewpoint of the each of the main characters, showcasing Butler's uncanny knack for getting inside the minds—and hearts—of his rural-bred ensemble. Most impressive is the incredible empathic connection the author has with the people that populate his fictional town of Little Wing, Wisconsin.

The characters who make up SHOTGUN LOVESONGS are far from stereotypical, as can often be the case in stories about the American heartland. These individuals see, feel, and love one another, all of which is done with master storytelling craft by Butler. The emotional depth of each of these vastly different characters is stunning and their actions and thoughts always feel genuine.

When it comes to describing the rural cornfields and the often-past-their-prime cities that make up the Midwest, Butler hits the rusty nail on its head. His Little Wing, WI is another reader's Romeo, Michigan, or Hopewell, Ohio, or Glanea, Illinois—the places that many of us grew up and either left long ago but never forgot, or still lovingly call home. Friends, family, and honesty are at the core of this amazing book, and it is one that will have you pining not for a world long past, but fully aware of the here and now, and the incredible power of community."
Profile Image for Sara Nelson.
26 reviews52.1k followers
March 6, 2014
Loved this deceptively simple novel and was surprised by it, since "homespun" is not often something I treasure. But this plainspoken story about four guys and the town they grew up in and the secrets they keep has stayed with me. I grew up in a smallish place, too and while it was completely different from Little Wing, Wisconsin, the alliances and secrets formed there travel with me.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
426 reviews40 followers
August 8, 2019
This had me at pg 2: "The earth rolling backward beneath him." Yes, this read swooped me up, just like a Richard Russo novel where you don't want it to end and a part of you wishes you could live happily-ever-after in these characters' world. Nothing was over or under done. It was just right.
Profile Image for Erin.
4 reviews3 followers
January 3, 2014
Ugh. There was potential here but the author didn't follow through. This read like a first draft.

Chapters alternate first-person narration between five different characters, but all the characters sound the same. Butler would have been better off going with third-person narration.

The author really wanted to set up Wisconsin as a character in itself, and he sometimes succeeded, but so many times he just referenced Carhartts, or John Deere, or Leinenkugels, like, "Hey, you know they're really legit Midwesterners because they're drinking Leinie's while wearing Carhartts on the farm!" And as long as we're on the topic of portraying Midwesterners, can New York publishers please stop thinking that we're all a bunch of country bumpkins who rarely visit big cities and who are awed by skyscrapers and dress boutiques when we do? Halfway through, I looked up the author's bio because I couldn't believe that someone who actually grew up in Wisconsin would write Wisconsinites as such unsophisticated simpletons who dream of having "a dress that doesn't fit like a shower curtain."

I did enjoy parts of the story, but it really went off the rails for me near the end, where it just turned into a ridiculous show of idiotic machismo and male love. I've never read Hemingway, but based on what I know of him I started to think maybe the author has read too much Hemingway. So you know, if you like Hemingway, you may very well dig this, but for me it was just men behaving stupidly in some attempt to re-kindle their adolescence and the uncomplicated loyalties of adolescent friendships.

The disappointment is that that's a theme worth exploring but this didn't live up to the potential. I wouldn't recommend this book but I would read Nickolas Butler again because I really do think he can do better than this, with a little time and polish. I hope the (over)hype of this debut doesn't lead him to rush his second novel because he would be better served taking a little more time to work on his craft. The ideas are there, he just wasn't quite able to pull them off.

Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,909 followers
December 23, 2019
This story explores the way our youthful friendships change as we grow older. When we're teenagers, it's all about having fun together. Everything is in the future. We can talk about our dreams and what we hope to do with our lives and anything is possible.

After we graduate from high school and go out into the world, life gets complicated, and our old friendships are profoundly altered. Some people have great success, others have great misfortune. Some stay in town and take the "boring" route through life, others head for the big city seeking fame and excitement. But when they come back to their hometown, they're really still that same kid we once knew. They're just a bit more beaten and battered.

The story is told in the alternating voices of several characters. My enjoyment varied greatly depending on who was telling the story. It starts out with Henry, and I loved his voice. It was poignant without being sappy. When Leland comes back to Little Wing to lick his wounds, his voice is similarly compelling when he recognizes all the beautiful things he missed about his hometown. I didn't care for Beth's voice, and unfortunately she's given quite a lot of space in the book. Her narrative style was too banal, making it almost feel like chick lit.
Ronny and Kip's voices were fine, but not memorable.

My appreciation of the book was uneven. There are some lovely, profound passages, and also some places that seemed to drag.
Profile Image for Laine Bergeson.
205 reviews
July 1, 2014
I haven't read prose this artless in a long time! (I can't help the exclamation point: that first sentence has to be recited in a faux chipper voice that seems to promise a rave review but reveals the exact opposite. It just feels right, perhaps because a lot of people really DID rave review this book.) I found this effort so sophomoric that I kept flipping to the author photo on the back flap to make sure that the writer wasn't, well, a high school sophomore.

The book broke down on every level: the sentences, regardless of what they were saying, were soft and gummy and, perhaps most damning of all, obvious. The pacing was slow; one-third of the way through the book I began to read one sentence every fifth page and still had a complete sense of plot, character, etc. Character development was heavy-handed, more tell than show, and while the premise had potential, the actual plot felt under-realized. And none of the characters had more than one dimension, especially the women.

The only thing I liked about this book is the title, which is great. I guess the cover art isn't bad either. Otherwise, take a pass on this dud.
Profile Image for Esther.
308 reviews
February 5, 2021
No se que decir de este libro porque tampoco se como me ha conquistado de esta forma.
No es la trama, ya que no es un libro con una gran historia detrás pero está contado de una forma que terminas siendo parte de ese grupo, de ese pueblo y de su vida.

Me ha transmitido buen rollo, sosiego. Como una caricia espontánea e inesperada.
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