Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

shotgun-lovesongsJust between you and me, I think that Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler is going to be a big book this spring. Everyone I know is reading it and loving it. Butler has the kind of credentials that make a great writer (read: Iowa Writer’s Workshop). And that may be why it is so hard for me to come out and say that I didn’t really like it.

Shotgun Lovesongs is about a group of aging male friends. All have found varying degrees of success in their lives and careers. Hank is a happily married struggling farmer. Lee is a rock star who prefers life in his rural community. Ronny has found love in the most unlikely of places and Kip is struggling. Put this all together and you have the kind of book i normally really like.

And to be honest, I really liked all these male characters and their story lines. Where the book really falls flat for me is with the female characters. There were just all the same. I didn’t buy into their fast friendships, whereas I loved the male friendships. I just didn’t get them. This is something I should be able to get past – the women were only secondary characters – but I can’t.

Who would like this book? Well, it would seem just about everybody other than me. I truly believe that. Shotgun Lovesongs is probably the novel that will launch Butler’s career. People who love classic rock like Bob Dylan and Neil Young will see traces of those two in one of the characters. Above all, i think this is a book for mid-westerners. Two bloggers who I respect immensely, Jennifer at The Relentless Reader and Shannon at River City Reading, really related to and loved Shotgun Lovesongs.  I will link to their reviews as soon as they are up. In the meantime, Rory at Fourth Street Review has some great things to say.

River City Reading’s Review of Shotgun Lovesongs.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


  1. I’m not sure if it’s my Midwest connection (I grew up in a Detroit suburb and spent a summer in Wisconsin, near Eau Claire), but I did really feel a closeness to this book. Though I never lived that small town life, I know those people and that feeling of “going back”.

    But I do think you’re right about the depth of the female characters. Though I think their friendships seem really fast on the surface, there’s something to be said for being an outsider in a group of best guy friends and feeling desperate for a female to connect to. I mentioned this on Rory’s review, too…I don’t think Butler fully explored the idea, so I can see why it might fall a bit flat.

  2. Maybe it is the small town thing and people going back that kind of put me off as well. I’m from a small town and as soon as i could get out i was gone.I know people like the characters in the book – or i should say i knew them – and i was the total opposite of them. Since leaving town I have lived on the other side of the country and on two separate continents!

  3. Pingback: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler | River City Reading

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