At the centre of Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Picador £12.99) a romantically old-school novel of friendships, is a character who might be based on Bon Iver. Butler went to the same school as him in rural Wisconsin and he writes about Lee, who never gave up on music and who, ‘While the rest of us were in college or the army or stuck on our family farms, had holed up in a derelict chicken coop and played his battered guitar in the all-round silence of deepest winter.’
Lee becomes famous. He tours the world, marries a movie star in New York, she leaves him, and he comes home to the town of Little Wing. He is one of four childhood friends along with Kip a former commodities trader who has also returned to the town to restore the old mill, Henry who has never left, who farms the family farm and is married with children and Ronny an injured, alcoholic, ex-rodeo rider. Each takes a turn, along with Beth, Henry’s wife, to tell a part of the story that moves along with a cinematic propulsion – it’s going to make a great movie, and if the emotional dependency of the characters to one and other is occasionally over sentimental it is more than off-set by some wonderfully descriptive writing about the rural midwest in winter.
Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs is the best book I’ve read in ages. I urge it on you all. Thanks to @booksellercrow for his fine taste.
— Alex Glancy (@glancee) March 13, 2014