Growing Up in the Heartland

Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler


This is a charmer of a book. Butler gives us first a series of character studies – each in first person, and then ties their lives together into something of a novel. It’s an interesting construction; it’s sentimental, it’s poignant, and it’s sometimes filled with pathos. All adding spice to his characters and their interlinked lives.

There is no continuing chronological order here, the story swings from characters’ memories of significant events in each personal life to events of mutual importance. Butler’s tale(s) takes place in rural Wisconsin, mostly in a small farming town called Little Wing, these twenty- and thirty-somethings growing up together, drinking, climbing silos, watching their town all but disappear. The town is a metaphor for their lives, their mutual friendship at the edge of fragmentation, just like Little Wing’s. But the group’s members persevere against odds in their mutual relationships – as they do in perpetuating Little Wing as a place of repose, a place in which life can resurrect.

Shotgun Lovesongs personifies the northern rural Midwest; indeed it’s the author’s love song to a place caught between that area’s farming past and the nearby modern urban life.

My rating: 18 of 20 stars

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2 thoughts on “Growing Up in the Heartland

  1. I haven’t read Benchy, but Becca has. She says no, Benchy is considered popular fiction in which the story’s the thing (it always is) with very little in the way of structural creativity to enhance the story.

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