Nickolas Butler’s smooth debut novel Shotgun Lovesongs is a poignant love story penned for the collective hometown we forget how much we love and miss. A mismatched group of music-loving Midwestern friends find themselves fleeing from, returning to, or being unable to leave their modest yet respectable Wisconsin upbringing. They adore each other and their hometown with a destructive and loyal fervor. The close-knit crew produces one wildly successful rock star, a defected rodeo cowboy and a few seemingly happily married couples. Beth, the sturdy, intelligent center of the group is loved by all and unaware of her influence on the men she’s known for as long as she’s known anything.
The book goes down like a smooth shot of whiskey bought for you by your long lost high school pal. Why do young adults run from the comforts of home just to be an unknown in a strange land? Is one’s first love the only real love? Are all relationships merely replacements for what once was? Butler tackles the sticky parts of growing up in a small town, failing and succeeding while one’s own little slice of Americana judges and applauds.