Book Review – Shotgun Lovesongs

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Picador) ISBN NO: 978-1-4472-3816-4

Shotgun Lovesongs is Nickolas Butler’s first novel. Set in the rural heart of Wisconsin, it follows the lives of four childhood friends as they navigate lives that can be as treacherous as those small-town roads once the snow comes down hard.

Henry, married to Beth, ekes out a living from the land. Ronny, who was once a rodeo star, now lives in his own shadow following an injury that has left him with not much more than the worn cowboy boots on his feet. Kip has returned from Chicago to get married and build a life back home. Lee, now a famous musician, tries to reconcile parts of his life that seem irreconcilable. Their story slowly unfolds, not like the neat rows of Henry’s ploughed fields, but in a way that is as unexpected as the coyote that strolls into Lee’s living room one cool autumn morning.

I could say that I would have liked a little more of this and a little less of that in the book, but I won’t. Butler’s writing is achingly beautiful and honest down to the bone. He reminds us what it means to be human. I suspect Shotgun Lovesongs will stay with me for a while to come.

Donna Radley


In a small town of one thousand residents, everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Henry, Lee, Kip, Beth, and Ronny grew up in rural Wisconsin. When there is only one girl involved, things can get complicated, as they did when Henry and Beth were on a break from dating and Lee invited her over to visit.But that’s all in the past now. Henry and Beth have been married a decade and have two great children.

Lee has rebranded himself Corvus after a small crow, and become a rich and famous international music star who is dating a Hollywood Starlet. Ronny had his fame in the rodeo until alcoholism destroyed that, and Kip got rich in Chicago before moving back to Wisconsin.

They have a reunion at Kip and Felicia’s wedding and, after some drama, we wonder if old friendships are meant to last or if the friends have gone down too divergent paths. This is an engaging read with believable characters.

I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to seeing the film that has been acquired by Fox Searchlight. I only hope the author is directly involved so his vision is not distorted.

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff


Beautifully written, Shotgun Lovesongs explores the lives of five childhood friends and how their lives drift further apart as each try and follow their dreams.

Butler’s narration from the respective friends allows us to delve deeper into their most intimate thoughts and familiarise ourselves with each character. Their opinions of the world they live in and how it has changed from the time they were in high school left me with a particularly different view of the world I find myself in now.

The story makes a particularly strong point that regardless of the ups and downs of life, home truly is where the heart is. It’s amazing how the story portrays the different relationships between the respective friends and how they are able to go through even the most difficult stages in their lives. I think that we all need shotguns once in a while to push us through difficult stages in life.

Alicia Sibanda

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Posted on: 5th January 2014